Right now, tens of billions of neurons are working together in your brain so that you can read these words.
How does this happen?
For the longest time, consciousness was life’s greatest mystery; something we thought we’d never understand.
Indeed, attempts to understand how the brain produces consciousness have, until now, been unsuccessful, leading many to conclude that it’s an unsolvable problem.
However, new developments in cutting-edge neuroscience, physics, and evolutionary biology are beginning to show that we may have been looking in the wrong place, and that the materialist assumption that consciousness arises only as a result of brain processes is not only reductionist, but also scientifically inaccurate.
In this conference, we’ll explore consciousness paradigms that go beyond the brain, how they work, why they matter, and how understanding them can enhance your everyday experience of reality.
There appears to be a growing disconnection between humans and their natural environments which has been linked to poor mental health and ecological destruction. A growing body of research shows that psychedelic usage is associated with enduring increases in nature relatedness, or connectedness, post experience. How and why does this occur, and what are the potential implications of this at a time of growing mental health and ecological crises? Nature relatedness can be considered a measure of one’s self identification with nature, and it is associated with a broad range of measures linked to psychological well-being, while also being a strong predictor of pro-environmental behaviour. What shared overlap is there between psychedelics and contact with nature in how they can affect our mental state? And how can we maximise this synergy between nature and psychedelics to improve mental health?
Dr Sam Gandy is a PhD ecologist, researcher and science writer, and has experience of working within the psychedelic field, as a past scientific assistant to the director of the Beckley Foundation, and as an ecopsychological coordinator and research assistant with the Synthesis Institute. Sam is a lifelong nature lover and has been fortunate enough to conduct ecological field research in various parts of the world. He currently works as a senior science writer for Wavepaths, and consultant for PsiClone, a company which has recently been granted permission from the Home Office to produce psilocybin in organic fungal form. He is also a collaborator with the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London, with a research interest in the capacity of psychedelics to influence our connection to nature. You can follow him on Twitter @SamwiseGandy.
According to our standard view of things, consciousness exists only in the brains of highly evolved organisms, and hence consciousness exists only in a tiny part of the universe and only in very recent history (cosmically speaking).
According to panpsychism, in contrast, consciousness pervades the universe and is a fundamental feature of it. The view sounds a bit strange, but a growing number of philosophers and neuroscientists are starting to think it might be our best hope for integrating consciousness into our scientific story of the universe. Dr Philip Goff explains why consciousness poses such a challenge for contemporary science and why panpsychism might be the answer.
Dr Philip Goff, PhD is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Durham University. Goff’s main research focus is consciousness, but he is interested in many questions about the nature of reality. Goff is most known for defending panpsychism, the view that consciousness is a fundamental and ubiquitous feature of the physical world.
Goff has authored an academic book with Oxford University Press – Consciousness and Fundamental Reality – and a book aimed at a general audience – Galileo’s Error: Foundations for a New Science of Consciousness. He is currently working on a book exploring the middle ground between God and atheism. Goff has published 45 academic articles as well as writing extensively for newspapers and magazines, including Scientific American, The Guardian, Aeon, and the Times Literary Supplement. The interview with Goff by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gareth Cook was one of the most viewed articles in Scientific American of 2020. You can check more of his work at www.philipgoffphilosophy.com and follow him on Twitter @Philip_Goff.
If I have a visual experience that I describe as a red tomato a meter away, then I am inclined to believe that there is, in fact, a red tomato a meter away, even if I close my eyes. I believe that my perceptions are, in the normal case, veridical—that they accurately depict aspects of the real world. But is my belief supported by our best science? In particular: Does evolution by natural selection favor veridical perceptions? Many scientists and philosophers claim that it does. But this claim, though plausible, has not been properly tested. In this talk I present a new theorem: Veridical perceptions are never more fit than non-veridical perceptions which are simply tuned to the relevant fitness functions. This entails that perception is not a window on reality; it is more like a desktop interface on your laptop. I discuss this interface theory of perception and its implications for one of the most puzzling unsolved problems in science: the relationship between brain activity and conscious experiences.
Prof. Donald Hoffman, PhD received his PhD from MIT, and joined the faculty of the University of California, Irvine in 1983, where he is a Professor Emeritus of Cognitive Sciences. He is an author of over 100 scientific papers and three books, including Visual Intelligence, and The Case Against Reality. He received a Distinguished Scientific Award from the American Psychological Association for early career research, the Rustum Roy Award of the Chopra Foundation, and the Troland Research Award of the US National Academy of Sciences. His writing has appeared in Edge, New Scientist, LA Review of Books, and Scientific American and his work has been featured in Wired, Quanta, The Atlantic, and Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman. You can watch his TED Talk titled “Do we see reality as it is?” and you can follow him on Twitter @donalddhoffman.
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(includes VAT + Booking Fee)
The Weekend University guarantees an excellent learning experience. If you are not fully satisfied with the day, you will receive 100% of your money back – with no questions asked. Simply contact us on email@example.com to arrange your refund.
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 – with no questions asked. Simply contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange your refund.