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Rebel GeniusWarren S. McCulloch's Transdisciplinary Life in Science$
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Tara H. Abraham

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780262035095

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262035095.001.0001

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(p.179) 8 Epilogue
Rebel Genius

Tara H. Abraham

The MIT Press

This final chapter reflects on the many identities McCulloch performed throughout his life: student, poet, neurophysiologist, neuropsychiatrist, cybernetician, mentor, and engineer, to name but a few. It argues that none of these can be understood as straightforward products of McCulloch’s own agency, nor were they driven by McCulloch’s institutional context. Rather, they were performatively produced. McCulloch was simultaneously irreverent and traditional, theoretical and practical. His open, generous spirit is as much a part of his scientific legacy than his theoretical contributions. McCulloch’s story also tells us much about the landscape of twentieth-century American science: fluidity between science, medicine, and philosophy, the role of patronage, and the liberation of the brain from medicine and its redefinition as a scientific object. All of these elements come together in bringing about McCulloch’s ultimate identity: the rebel genius.

Keywords:   Self-fashioning, cognitive sciences, scientific patronage, transdisciplinary, performative identity, American science

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