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October 2015

Nicholas Langlitz – Vatted Dreams: Neurophilosophy and the Politics of Phenomenal Internalism 

October 14, 2015, 6:15 pm - 8:15 pm
The Heyman Center for the Humanities, Columbia University
New York, NY 10027 United States
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Speaker: Nicholas Langlitz, PhD, Associate Professor of Anthropology, The New School Respondent: David Barack, PhD, Presidential Scholar in Society and Neuroscience, Columbia University Despite much social scientific work on the neurosciences, little ethnographic and historical attention has been paid to the field of neurophilosophy. Yet anthropologists studying brain research occasionally critique neurophilosophers for reducing the mind to the brain while affirmatively citing philosophers of mind who present the mind as emerging from interactions between brain, body and environment. This article examines the ostracized camp of so-called…

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November 2015

Howard Kushner: Norman Geschwind, Behavioral Neurology and Left Handedness – Neuroscience and History Series

November 11, 2015, 6:15 pm - 8:15 pm
The Heyman Center for the Humanities, Columbia University
New York, NY 10027 United States
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In the early 1980s Harvard neurologist Norman Geschwind (1926-1984) proposed a controversial hypothesis that uterine stress produced allergies, immune disorders, and learning disabilities, and initially, left-handedness. Because males were more likely than females to develop these disorders and to be left-handed, Geschwind and his colleagues were persuaded that hormones played a major role in these outcomes. The Geschwind hypothesis built on Geschwind’s earlier work on the role of neuronal lesions in learning disorders. His interest in learning disabilities can be…

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February 2016

Larry McGrath – Spiritualizing Neurology in the Fin de Siècle

February 24, 2016, 6:15 pm - 8:00 pm
The Heyman Center for the Humanities, Columbia University
New York, NY 10027 United States
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The development of neurology in the late 19th century inaugurated a historical moment when the brain came to be taken seriously not only as the organ of thought, but also as the lynchpin of a materialist ideology. God and consciousness, many believed, had been excised from the natural world. Yet a movement of self-proclaimed French “spiritualists,” including Henri Bergson, Alfred Fouillée, and Jean-Marie Guyau, told a different story. They demonstrated that theology and metaphysics were not simply compatible with but…

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April 2016

Katja Guenther – The Mirror and the Mind – Neuroscience and History Series

April 11, 2016, 6:15 pm - 8:00 pm
The Heyman Center for the Humanities, Columbia University
New York, NY 10027 United States
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This talk brings the study of material culture to an unlikely object: the mind. Focusing on three episodes of mirror use in the medicine and science of the mind in the twentieth century, Katja Guenther analyzes the ways in which this simple piece of experimental equipment has been used to capture the mind’s workings.

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October 2016

The Idea of Freedom of Choice in Neuroscience and History

October 13, 2016, 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
The Center for Science and Society, 513 Fayerweather Hall, 1180 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10027 United States
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Speakers: Sophia Rosenfeld (Yale), Sheena Iyengaar (Columbia), David Barack (Columbia). Being "free to choose" has arguably become a stand-in for broader concepts of freedom in many parts of the world today. What do Neuroscientists and Historians think of this?

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November 2016

Beyond the Hype: “Buddhism and Neuroscience” in a New Key

November 11, 2016, 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Deutsches Haus, 410 W 116th Street
New York, NY 10027 United States
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Over the past three decades, since the creation of the Mind and Life Institute in the 80s under the auspices of the Dalai Lama and the neurobiologist Francisco Varela, a series of conferences have introduced the idea of a convergence between Buddhism and neuroscience. Neuroscientists have been particularly interested in the possible neural correlates of Buddhist meditation, and their experiments have contributed to the current popularity of Mindfulness and derived techniques, such as “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.” Apart from meditation, a…

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