The human that emerges from both Smith and Brenninkmeijer’s papers demonstrates notable similarities. In both accounts, the human is irreducible to a single conceptual category or body of knowledge, retaining its ability to confuse, surprise, and frustrate historian and human scientist alike. However, Fuller departs from this vision of the body, downplaying the current biological form of the human as merely one phase through which humanity will eventually pass.

This is the first in a four-part report from the workshop, 'The Future of the History of the Human Sciences,' which was held at the University of York, 7-8 April 2016 (see a storify form the workshop here). The workshop was jointly hosted by HHS and Chris Renwick (History, York), and was supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, and the University of York. Here, David Saunders (postgraduate student at the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, Manchester) reports on one of the workshop's core problematics: The Problem of The Human. “We very much hope that this is an event where we can all be provocative and disagree with each other,” notes Felicity Callard (editor-in-chief of History of the Human Sciences) in her opening address to the attendees of the ‘Future of the History of the Human Sciences’ conference. The event’s first session, ‘The Problem of the Human’, sought to address the human sciences’ most central, and yet

most frustratingly illusive, subject of inquiry – the human itself. The death of the human as a philosophical and scientific category has been endlessly prophesised and postponed over the years, from Michel Foucault’s oft-repeated prediction of man ‘erased, like a face drawn in the sand at the edge of the sea’ (Foucault, 1966) to more recent concerns regarding the supposed overthrow of ‘selfhood’ by ‘brainhood’ facilitated by the emergent neurosciences (Vidal, 2009). Discussions among historians and human scientists about the uncertain ontological status of the human clearly continue to foster the kind of passionate and provocative disagreement that the event’s organisers had hoped for. In the first paper, ‘Resisting Neurosciences and Sustaining History’, Roger Smith (Emiritus Reader in the History of Science, Lancaster) expresses his scepticism regarding the supposed novelty and radical impact of the neurosciences on conventional ideas of the human. Rather, Smith argues, materialist explanations for sentience have been present since the nineteenth-century and have had…

Charles Darwin, Duchenne de Boulogne and others described the process of producing an emotional expression, but they didn’t show this process: photographs displayed just one instant that summarized that process. This instant is not conceptualized as such in their books, but was nonetheless materialized in the photographs. These photographs were later appropriated by others such as the psychologist Georges Dumas and the physiologist Charles-Émile François-Franck, who also followed their photographic methods. By doing this, Dumas and François-Franck were implicitly assuming the principle of the instant: that the smile was that frozen moment that they were seeing in the photographs.

For the latest in our series of author interviews, we spoke to Beatriz Pichel, Wellcome Trust Fellow in Medical Humanities, at the Photographic History Research Centre, De Montfort University. Dr Pichel works between the history of photography, the history of emotions, and the medical humanities; she is currently working on the relationship between psychological theories of the emotions and photography at then turn of the nineteenth century. Her new paper, 'From Facial Expressions to Bodily Gestures: Passions, Photography and Movement in French 19th-Century Sciences' is available, open access, in the current issue of History of the Human Sciences. Dr Pichel spoke to HHS Web Editor, Des Fitzgerald.  Des Fitzgerald: The fundamental claim of your paper, as I read it, and if you’ll forgive a radical simplification, is that the history of the emotions is also the history of photographic technology. Why was it that attention to the emotions, particularly, became so associated with photographic technology? Or should we understand what’s going on here as only one story within a broader history

of visual technology in the history of psychology? Beatriz Pichel: In the second half of the nineteenth century, psychologists and physiologists started to measure emotions in terms of bodily changes (breath, blood pressure, pulse, etc.). But some of them nonetheless still used photographs to see the external changes in the body. This is interesting because, at this time, the imaging of emotion is the only use of photography that I have found in the group of psychologists that I’m looking at. So yes, I would suggest that there is a special connection between photography and emotions in the history of psychology – although, of course, the uses of photography in psychology cannot be reduced to this. But there is a further question, which relates to what we understand by the ‘history of emotions’ more broadly. In my article, I refer to the history of emotions as a discipline, and I claim that part of this history should…

It seems to me that we have a form of self-harm in the 1960s that is socially-embedded, accessed by social workers, and fundamentally understood as interpersonal behaviour. It is a very ‘social’ form of self-harm. In the 1980s, the kind of self-harm that resonates is one that focuses upon individual emotional states, and the practice of self-regulation. The very idea of ‘crying for help’ is recast as negative and manipulative.

What is self-harm, and where does it come from? These are the two questions that I am trying to answer in my new, open access book A History of Self-Harm in Britain: A Genealogy of Cutting and Overdosing (2015). The question really depends upon when and where you ask. In Britain during the 1950s and 1960s, the terms ‘self-harm’ and ‘self-damage’ largely signify taking an overdose of medication. It is also called ‘attempted suicide’, ‘self-poisoning’, ‘pseudocide’ and ‘propetia’ (from the Greek for ‘rashness’). The studies from which such terminology emerged were rooted in hospital Accident and Emergency departments (A&E). At this point, the overdose is generally understood as a disordered communication – a ‘cry for help’ – and is assessed by psychiatrists attached to hospitals, alongside another particular group of professionals: psychiatric social workers (PSWs). But the idea that ‘self harm’ essentially indicates ‘overdosing as a cry for help’ changes during the 1980s. In particular, the practice of self-cutting

as a form of tension release or emotional regulation gains more prominence. Initially studies of self-cutting emerge from inpatient units in North America and Britain. Despite being called things like ‘delicate cutting’ or ‘wrist-slashing’, these studies actually document a wide range of behaviours including self-burning, skin-picking, smashing windows, and swallowing objects such as pins or dominoes. However, self-cutting is repeatedly emphasized as being archetypal in some way (this is a topic I discuss in much more detail in another paper). Despite this emphasis on self-cutting, the behaviour presenting at hospitals doesn’t really change: between 80 and 95 per cent of the cases under the label ‘self-harm’ in hospital statistics remain self-poisoning. However, there are now huge numbers of studies from psychotherapists, counselors and psychiatrists documenting ‘self-cutters’. The behavioural stereotypes inaugurated during the 1980s remain substantially intact today. ‘Self-cutting as emotional self-regulation’ is still largely presumed to be the behaviour and motivation indicated by the term ‘self-harm’. The key questions are, why…

On the one hand, the journal’s success over the last 28 years has established the human sciences as a field, and made clear its intrinsically historical basis. In the last quarter century, the long-standing neglect, on the part of historians and philosophers of science, of the human sciences in comparison with the natural sciences has given way to an investigation of their often intertwined (as well as times opposed) epistemic projects, practices and commitments. On the other hand, the porous boundary between the natural scientific approach pursued in many of the life sciences and the historical approach promoted by this journal has largely dissolved.

The central problem of the human sciences remains unresolved. Despite the new claims championed within molecular biology, evolutionary psychology, artificial intelligence and the cognitive neurosciences, one of the central organising categories of each of those disciplines – the human – has resisted definition. This resistance has a long history. When Kant asked the last of the four key philosophical questions posed in his Logic of 1800 – ‘Was ist der Mensch?’ – he likely knew that nineteenth-century theory would fail to provide a definitive answer. The category that came to define both the humanities and the human sciences in the German-speaking territories – that of Geist, the inherently un-measurable, unstable and speculative prefix to the Geisteswissenschaften – served only to produce provisional answers that would in turn only give rise to further questions. Towards the close of the nineteenth century, Wilhelm Dilthey concluded that this resistance to definition was inevitable because the human being is

an ineluctably historical being whose attempts at self-understanding are always contingent upon a particular historical perspective and therefore always subject to variation (Dilthey 1991 [1883]). Within the German tradition of philosophical anthropology advanced by Max Scheler (1928) and Helmuth Plessner (1928), among others, and recently taken up in the writings of Hans Blumenberg (2006) and Peter Sloterdijk (2004), the human being is held up as a ‘cultural being’ that is able to survive only because of its non-biological adaptations and technologies. Human nature, these writers insist, is human culture, and the human sciences would thus require a methodology quite different from those of the natural sciences. This recognition that human nature is, in the last analysis, historical has been foundational to the post-structural turn in the human sciences. The acknowledgment of the radical problem that the question of the human posed underwrote the work of Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida. Foucault famously argued in The Order of Things that ‘Man, in the analytic of finitude, is…

Philosophically, one of the goals of science studies was to show that there was no clear demarcation of science from society, that scientists were human beings like you and me, and that their claims to objectivity were unfounded. Expert knowledge was put in its place and subordinated to a democratic process. When science studies were established as a field in the 1980s, we were certainly not ruled by philosopher kings and nobody felt the need to show how Derrida and Rorty had fabricated their truth claims ­– not least because these philosophers didn't make any. But technoscientists did assert their expertise and transformed our world in powerful ways. So we started the Science Wars.

Nicolas Langlitz is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the New School for Social Research in New York City. His work lies at the intersection of anthropology and the history of science, where he has been especially engaged with the epistemic cultures of the neurobiological and psychopharmcological sciences. His most recent monograph, 'Neuropsychedilia: The Revival of Hallucinogen Research Since the Decade of The Brain' is available from the University of California Press. At the beginning of March, Des Fitzgerald, HHS Web Editor, caught up with Nicolas about his recent article in History of the Human Sciences, 'On a not so chance encounter of neurophilosophy and science studies in a sleep laboratory.' Des Fitzgerald: We’ve had a lot of reflection lately on how disciplines like anthropology and sociology intersect the natural sciences (and especially life sciences); one of the things I found especially valuable about your article was its attention to a very different set of interdisciplinary relations – those between social scientists and philosophers. Why do you think there has been relatively little attention to these interactions? And where do you see their future? Nicolas Langlitz: That's true.

Social studies of science, including anthropology and sociology, have not paid much attention to philosophy. I think there are political reasons for why the humanities and the social sciences attracted less interest. In his article "What Happened in the Sixties?", Jon Agar located the birth of science studies in the long 1960s and the countercultural upheaval against technocratic government. Philosophically, one of the goals of science studies was to show that there was no clear demarcation of science from society, that scientists were human beings like you and me, and that their claims to objectivity were unfounded. Expert knowledge was put in its place and subordinated to a democratic process. When science studies were established as a field in the 1980s, we were certainly not ruled by philosopher kings and nobody felt the need to show how Derrida and Rorty had fabricated their truth claims ­– not least because these philosophers didn't make any. But technoscientists did assert their expertise and transformed our world in powerful ways. So we started the…