A full day of talks exploring the science, psychology and evolution of the Self.
Have you ever felt you went beyond your ordinary self and felt connected to something bigger than you?
In a 2016 UK survey, over 84% of respondents (including atheists, agnostics, Christians, and Buddhists) said yes to this question.
So what’s going on?
In the complex web of modern life, we’re conditioned to embrace our rational minds and spend every second of our conscious hours in search of opportunities and threats. We are encouraged to get ahead, win friends, influence people, attract praise, avoid blame and generally focus on satisfying the individual everyday ego.
Indeed, the idea of a “self”, as a unique and coherent individual, has existed ever since humans began to live in groups and become sociable.
But is this egoic view of ourselves scientifically accurate?
Or is there something more to the human experience? And could our most basic assumptions about who we are be wrong?
In this series of talks, we explore the psychology of the ‘Self’, drawing on perspectives from Jungian psychology, neuroscience and the work of Aldous Huxley – to question our most basic assumptions about who we are, and our place in the world.
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- 10:00am – 12:00pm: Aldous Huxley and Self Transcendence – Jules Evans
- 12:00 – 1:00pm: Lunch break
- 1:00pm – 3:00pm: Carl Jung & The Individuation Process – Dr Kevin Lu
- 3:00pm – 3:15pm: Afternoon break
- 3:15pm – 5:00pm: The Evolution of the Self – Will Storr
- 5:20pm – 7:00pm: Attendee Social & Networking (Optional)
Lectures & Speakers
Aldous Huxley & Self Transcendence – Jules Evans
The English writer Aldous Huxley revolutionised western culture’s attitude towards self-transcendence and mystical experiences. In his essays and books like Doors of Perception, he helped shift our culture from the hostility of mainstream psychology and psychiatry to a more sympathetic viewpoint. This paved the way for the sixties counterculture and helped lead to a sharp rise in reported mystical experiences in the sixty years since his death. This talk will look at Huxley’s life and ideas, how he went from a famous atheist and cynic to a spiritual guru who opened our minds, inspired the field of transpersonal psychology, and ignited the contemporary boom in contemplative and psychedelic practice.
- Huxley, A. (1977) Moksha: Aldous Huxley’s Classic Writings on Psychedelics & The Visionary Experience. New York: Stonehill
- Huxley, A. (1962) Island. London: Chatto & Windus
- Evans, J. (2017) The Art of Losing Control. London: Canongate Books
Jules Evans is Policy Director at the Centre for the History of Emotions at Queen Mary, University of London and a leading researcher into ecstatic experience. He also runs the world’s biggest philosophy club, the London Philosophy Club, which has over 6,000 members. Jules’ first book, Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations was published in 19 countries and was selected by Matthew Syed as a Times Book of the Year. He has written for The Times, Financial Times, Guardian, Spectator and WIRED and is a BBC New Generation Thinker. You can keep up to date with Jules’ work on his website: www.philosophyforlife.org
Carl Jung & Individuation – Dr Kevin Lu, PhD
In this lecture, we will look at Jung’s theory of individuation, where he maps out a path of psychological personality development that, ideally, culminates in greater self-knowledge. Intricately linked to this process is a gradual unfolding of the archetypal Self, which can be understood as an ideal image that both drives and is the end goal of individuation.
While this lecture seeks to provide an in-depth introduction to this central concept in Jung’s psychology, we will also ask some important critical questions: Is individuation an elitist endeavour? Can individuation be achieved without being in relationship to others? Most importantly, is individuation, as Jung conceived it, still possible in our hi-tech and digitally connected world?
Dr Kevin Lu, PhD, is Director of Graduate Studies and Director of the MA Jungian and Post-Jungian Studies in the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, University of Essex. He is a former member of the Executive Committee of the International Association for Jungian Studies.
Dr. Lu’s publications include articles and chapters on Jung’s relationship to the discipline of history, critical assessments of the theory of cultural complexes, and Jungian perspectives on graphic novels and their adaptation to film.
The Evolution of the Self – Will Storr
We are living in an age of heightened individualism. Success is a personal responsibility. Our culture tells us that to succeed is to be slim, rich, happy, extroverted, popular – flawless.
The pressure to conform to this ideal has changed who we are. We have become self-obsessed. And our expectation of perfection comes at a cost. Millions are suffering under the torture of this impossible fantasy.
It was not always like this. To explain how we got here, Will Storr will take us on a journey across continents and centuries. Full of thrilling and unexpected connections between history, psychology, economics, neuroscience and more, this talk will help you make sense of who you are, where you come from, and the origins of some of our most basic assumptions about the world.
- Storr, W. (2017) Selfie: How the West Became Self-Obsessed. London: Picador
Will Storr is an award-winning writer. He’s the author of five critically acclaimed books, including the novel The Hunger and The Howling of Killian Lone. His journalism has appeared in The Guardian, The Sunday Times, The New Yorker and The New York Times. His prizes include a National Press Club award for excellence and the AFM award for Best Investigative Journalism. His work on sexual violence against men earned the Amnesty International Award and a One World Press Award. He’s also been presented with the AIB Award for Best Investigative Documentary for his BBC radio series.
He teaches popular storytelling classes in London and has been invited to present his Science of Storytelling workshop all over the world, from Bangkok to Istanbul to the European Parliament. Will is also an in-demand ghostwriter whose books have spent months at the top of The Sunday Times bestseller chart. You can follow him on twitter @wstorr.
What TWU attendees are saying:
Great initiative! For people that like myself are passionate about psychology but wouldn't commit to long term course or training it's a wonderful opportunity to listen to qualified professionals in the area in a relaxed atmosphere.
Just attended my second Weekend University day of lectures at Birkbeck, this time on Memories, Dreams and Existentialism. A great mix of speakers, styles and content which left me wanting to go home and find out more about two out of the three subjects. Fantastic to see Emmy Van Deurzen in action - she's a bit of a heroine of mine! One tip would be to ask the audience to fill up the rows of seats before the start as inevitably some people arrive late (like I did) and it was all a bit chaotic at the back of the auditorium. There were empty seats near the walls but no way to get to them without having four or five people stand up.
Great initiative. Eminent speakers, fascinating talks.
Another amazing day of learning! Thank you Niall.
I just wanted to say what a fabulous day it was on Sunday. The presenters were all highly engaging and the material fascinating. I am ever so grateful to have been able to attend and look forward to any future similar events with 'zest'!
I thoroughly enjoyed the day. It was a well organized event with fantastic informative talks by knowledgeable and charismatic speakers. Looking forward to future events.
Great event, 3 fantastic lectures presented
I found the 3 speakers to be extremely well prepared, professional, charismatic, authentic in their delivery of there content. They all had something to share. They were very clear on the "takeaways" which I found in important for such a long day. They all 3 were also very generious in spending time after their talk, to answer more 1-2-1 questions on the side of the room. Very generious. I look forward to future weekend university days.
Just to say that I was so impressed with the quality of the lectures today. It is rare to find that kind of substance, and I imagine you looked long and hard to choose. You are doing a great job. I will definitely come again and tell those I know who would be very interested.
I have attended lots of psychology workshops and would rate this organisation very highly. Interesting, engaging speakers and well run course at an affordable price. Well done Niall. You deserve to do very well
What an intense and heartening day, Jan 28th at Birkbeck U venue. Despite being crowded (testiment to the desire for these events and the calibre) we were comfortable enough to be riveted by the material for hours. I appreciated the free coffee, because the day was long for those like me who come from outside the city. I look forward to the slides being sent to fill out my notes. Fellow audients were warm and attending for a variety of reasons, and are the second fab reason to be there for the day.
Just attended Scientific Behaviour Change - Ancient Wisdom & Modern Psychology and had the most fantastic, enlightening and inspiring day. All three speakers were at a tremendously high level and (to echo the reviewer below) the variety of approaches and theories around a single topic gave great insight. I've already booked for next month.
Today's event was so good, I immediately booked for next one in February!?
The day of Psychology was really insightful, it has inspired me to start researching into all spectrums of mental health & psychology. Something I particularly liked about the day, was the contrast and variety of theories and approaches by each of the three speakers
Interesting lectures on a variety of areas of Psychology and well organised.
A really good mix of topics. I was engaged all day and i'm looking forward to the next one!
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The Weekend University seeks to guarantee an excellent learning experience. If you are not fully satisfied with the day, you will receive 100% of your money back, and we will cover the cost of your travel to and from the venue.