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Power and TimeTemporalities in Conflict and the Making of History$
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Dan Edelstein, Stefanos Geroulanos, and Natasha Wheatley

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226481623

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226706016.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

Brain-Time Experiments: Acute Acceleration, Intensified Synchronization, and the Belatedness of the Modern Subject

Brain-Time Experiments: Acute Acceleration, Intensified Synchronization, and the Belatedness of the Modern Subject

Chapter:
(p.223) 8 Brain-Time Experiments: Acute Acceleration, Intensified Synchronization, and the Belatedness of the Modern Subject
Source:
Power and Time
Author(s):

Henning Schmidgen

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226706016.003.0009

In their analyses of modernity, sociologists from Simmel and Weber to Rosa highlighted the aspect of acceleration. According to this view, the shared feature of the differentiation of social systems, the process of rationalization, and the increase in control over nature is the acute mobilization and dynamization of societal life. This chapter argues that modernity relies on and refers to much more heterogeneous forms of time. Drawing on insights from Karl Marx, Walter Benjamin, and Georges Canguilhem, it argues that phenomena of synchronization and processes of deceleration are equally important for social and cultural modernity. The chapter focuses on history of the physiological and psychological time measurements in the 19th and 20th centuries. Reconstructing the material and semiotic culture of these “brain-time experiments,” it shows that performing them crucially relied on networked synchronization technologies such as telegraphs and computers. Against this background, laboratory scientists such as Hermann von Helmholtz, Wilhelm Wundt, and—in more recent times—Benjamin Libet were able to establish the belatedness of human beings with respect to themselves as a crucial feature of modern subjectivity.

Keywords:   modernity, accelleration, synchronization, belatedness, time measurement, experiment, Hermann von Helmholtz, laboratory, Wilhelm Wundt, Benjamin Libet

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