Lionel Naccache

Netperson From the Microcosm of the Brain to the Macrocosm of Human Societies Publication date : October 7, 2015

Lionel Naccache is a neurologist and a researcher in cognitive neurosciences at the Institut du Cerveau et de la Moëlle Épinière (Brain and Spine Institute) at Hôpital de la Salpêtrière, in Paris, and a professor of medicine at the University of Paris-VI. He is a graduate of the Ecole Normale Supérieure and the author of Le Nouvel Inconscient, Perdons-nous connaissance? and Un Sujet en soi.

From the Microcosm of the Brain to the Macrocosm of Human Societies

An epileptic seizure is a phenomenon that occurs when several areas of the brain begin over-communicating with one other and end up exchanging information that is poor and stereotyped. The functions of those areas weaken, and they lose the specificity that made them distinctive — in some respects they are like the busy commercial streets of globalised societies that look so much alike that it is easy to forget which country you are in.
In his new book, Lionel Naccache compares a microscopic epileptic seizure with the macroscopic crisis the world is undergoing — which he calls the ‘paradox of the immobile journey’, or the contrast between the increasing ease and speed of travel and the diminishing sensation that a change of venue has actually occurred.
Drawing on this analogy, he demonstrates that the contemporary world disposes of a previously unequalled potential for consciousness. But he also shows why it is vulnerable to the weaknesses engendered by contemporary Western societies’ current crises: globalisation, the revival of religions, the replication and sameness of many parts of the globe, crises in the democracies, etc.
This unique approach leads the author to propose a series of measures designed to treat, and especially to prevent, ‘epileptic seizures in society’ — in the same manner as epilepsy can be treated and prevented in individuals.

• An acute, highly original work that offers an analogy between the way the brain and society work.
• How knowledge of the functional architecture of the neural networks of the brain can help us understand the interpersonal networks of human societies.