Fernando Vidal

Visiting Scholar

Ph.D., Research Professor, ICREA (Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies) /Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Residence: November 10–December 10, 2014


I was born and raised in Buenos Aires (and later became Swiss), was an undergraduate at Harvard, did graduate work in developmental psychology and the history and philosophy of science at the Universities of Geneva and Paris, received my PhD from Geneva, and a Habilitation from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. I have been a Guggenheim Fellow, as well as an Athena Fellow of the Swiss National Science Foundation. I have worked on various topics in the history of the human sciences, including the early development of psychology and anthropology, sexuality in the 18th century, psychoanalysis and psychiatry in the early 20th century, the progressive education movement in the interwar years, and miracles and science in the early modern period and the Enlightenment. My publications include Piaget Before Piaget (1994), an edition of Jean Starobinski’s writings on the history of the body (Las razones del cuerpo, 1999), The Moral Authority of Nature (2004, co-edited with Lorraine Daston), Believing Nature, Knowing God (a thematic issue of Science in Context, 2007, co-edited with Bernhard Kleeberg), Neurocultures (co-edited with Francisco Ortega, 2011), and The Sciences of the Soul: The Early Modern Origins of Psychology (2011, original French 2006). My current work deals with the cultural history of the "cerebral subject" - from film and science fiction to neurobics and neurophilosophy - to understand the emergence and contemporary forms of the belief that the brain is the only part of the body we need in order to be ourselves. I am more generally interested in the longue-durée history of the relations between notions of  bodily continuity and personal identity. I also coordinate the project "Endangerment and Its Consequences." For more information, see Projects, "The Cerebral Subject" and "Working Group."

Teaching activities

2011 Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Caujimalpa and Universidad Nacional Autónoma, Mexico – Invited Professor
2010 Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales – Invited Professor
2009 Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro – Invited Professor
2007 Instituto de Medicina Social, Universidade Estadual do Rio de Janeiro – Invited professor
2006 Instituto de Medicina Social, Universidade Estadual do Rio de Janeiro – Invited professor