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 egoistic 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 developmental psychology, Carl Jung and his approach to the psyche, and the latest scientific and cultural research – to question our most basic assumptions about who we really are, and our place in the world.
Ever society in human history, except ours, accepted the basic human need to lose control, go beyond the ego, and connect with something bigger than ourselves. This experience became known as ecstasy.
In this talk, Jules Evans explores various forms of ecstatic experience, argues that transcendence is good for us and through proper practice, can help us find healing, inspiration, connection and joy.
Drawing on personal experiences, the work of both ancient and modern philosophers and scientific and cultural research including interviews with radical Jihadis, the Bishop of London, Brian Eno and new-age Wizards, Jules examines how modern westerners find ecstatic experiences today, be it in churches, raves, galleries, sports, meditation and political movements, and what we can gain from mastering the art of losing control, in ways that are good for both us and for our society.
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.
In this talk, Dr Kevin Lu will explore Jung’s model of the psyche, with special attention to the definitive concepts differentiating analytical psychology from Freudian psychoanalysis. In particular, the talk will critically assess Jung’s formulation of the archetypal Self, which acts as the end goal of the individuation process.
While critiques of Jung’s search for universal patterns of human experience and action — which in turn may have limited his appreciation of the influence exerted by social and contextual factors — are duly noted, Dr Lu suggests that the true contribution of Jung’s psychology cannot be divorced from one of its major limitations: it seeks to say something both general and specific about the human condition. What Jung yearns for is not an imitation of old, worn out patterns, but a creative engagement with them that allows us to experience the fullness of life in all its complexities.
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.
Most of us believe that we are unique and coherent individuals, but are we?
The idea of a “self” has existed ever since humans began to live in groups and become sociable. Those who embrace the self as an individual in the West, or a member of the group in the East, feel fulfilled and purposeful. This experience seems incredibly real, but a wealth of recent scientific evidence reveals that this notion of the independent, coherent self is an illusion – it is not what it seems.
In this talk, Professor Bruce Hood reveals how the self emerges during childhood and how the architecture of the developing brain enables us to become social animals dependent on each other. You’ll learn how the self is the product of our relationships and interactions with others, and it exists only in our brains. Prof Hood argues, however, that though the self is an illusion, it is one that humans cannot live without.
Prof Bruce Hood is the Professor of Developmental Psychology in Society in the School of Experimental Psychology at the University of Bristol. He has been a research fellow at Cambridge University and University College London, a visiting scientist at MIT and a faculty professor at Harvard. He has been awarded an Alfred Sloan Fellowship in neuroscience, the Young Investigator Award from the International Society of Infancy Researchers, the Robert Fantz memorial award and voted to Fellowship status by the society of American Psychological Science. He is the founder of the world’s largest expert speaker database Speakezee.org, and the bestelling author of ”Supersense”, ‘The Self Illusion”, and the ”Domesticated Brain.’ His new book, “Possessed” is published by Allen Lane in 2019.
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