The next Foundations of Mind conference is coming to UC Berkeley August 13th through the 15th, and I’d love to see you there!
Foundations of Mind: Dialogues Between Worldviews creates interdisciplinary dialogue about Mind/Nous in a way that transcends a reduction of Mind to psychological process. This project asserts that the proper study of mind is the most important scientific venture in which humanity has engaged. We are also aware that humans have struggled with explaining mental actions for thousands of years, and indeed that the products of mind are available around us as the arts, as science, and as social organization. In recent years, there has been progress in neuroscience and in computer simulation of behavior, and also a growing sense through quantum mechanics that something is missing in our objective explanations of physical nature. This somehow seems to be linked with the mystery of subjectivity — why each of us feels that “I am.”
Foundations of Mind II Conference: Dialogues between Worldviews
FOM 2 3105 Tolman Hall, UC Berkeley, Aug 13-15, 2015
Early bird registration of $200 due by June 1, 2015 to: http://www.foundationsofmind.org/donate/
Confirmed plenary speakers/panelists include:
Stuart Kauffman (Systems Biology, Seattle)
Jacob Needleman (SFSU)
Kevin Padian (UC Berkeley)
Walter Freeman (UC Berkeley)
Swami Prasannatmananda (Vedanta society)
Seán Ó Nualláin (UOI)
Stanley Klein (UC Berkeley)
Beverly Stokes (Amazing babies moving)
Cynthia Sue Larson (RealityShifters)
More speakers will be added; we are also pleased to host members of the Biohackers and consciousness hackers communities in the Bay area.
Foundations Of Mind Conference Sessions Include:
Living the Quantum Paradigm
3105 Tolman Hall UC Berkeley
Aug 13 2015 10 am to noon
Chair: Cynthia Sue Larson
This session invites interdisciplinary dialogue and exercises addressing the underlying philosophy and logic of quantum physics, and approaches to living in accordance with quantum principles. Questions about the nature of reality require inclusion of quantum physics beyond the historical “shut up and calculate” approach, which has provided multiple interpretations of quantum physics without agreement on the philosophical quantum paradigm foundation. Whereas quantum physics challenges scientists to comprehend whether, how, or where a boundary between classical and quantum physics may exist, philosophy promotes critical thinking and clarity about arguments, terminology, and ideas. Scientific philosophy can lead the way toward development of new theoretical approaches and alternate interpretations, while finding conceptual weak points in theories and arguments. Experiential approaches to living in accordance with quantum principles provide unique opportunities for appreciating the feeling of levels of consciousness and the dream-like nature of reality. In Vedanta, the body is a synonym for sensations and the mind for thoughts; both are presented to consciousness, the fundamental eternal reality. Yet exercises are also proposed to maintain this insight, which otherwise does not persist.
Session on Ontology
3105 Tolman Hall UC Berkeley
Aug 13 1pm to 3pm
Chair: Michael Ranney
It is our belief that much grief, and waste of taxpayers’ money, could be avoided with an appropriate reparse of nature that acknowledges there are rifts between the quantum and classical physical realities, and further ontological discontinuities at the biological and intentional thresholds. It is further our belief that the relative failure of the HGP, and imminent debacle of both the Obama and “Blue brain” neuro initiatives, are dues to precisely this unwillingness to cater to ontology. Moreover, even incessant crawling of the web has failed to yield anything other than at best mediocre results in machine translation. Finally, this tendency manifests itself in the social sciences with psychologism, the reduction of exigent social dynamics to cognitive and other psychological theories of how these forces are processed. This has led on the one hand to the non-engaged intellectual; on the other, to bewildering interpretations of postmodern thinkers geared mainly to giving instructors a free pass. This session invites papers that address technical issues in science and the arts under this rubric and/or consider the question of authentic political engagement. In particular, the latter category of papers may explore the fact that reality is relative to consciousness and yet transcends it, As we act, we become aware of being objects in a social space that yet can be magicked away in a classroom.
In the Absence of Theory; Return to Villa Serbelloni?
3105 Tolman Hall UC Berkeley
Aug 13 3-30 to 5-30
Chair: Seán Ó Nualláin
Several decades before the HGP was initiated, a diverse group of scientists convened at Villa Serbelloni to tackle the troubling lack of theory in biology. The solutions they proposed were various, from an untroubling emphasis on hierarchy to a reinstatement of Aristotelian material and final causality to a network-based approach to the interaction of metabolism and genetic code. It is fair to say that the HGP to its cost – and that of the public who paid for it – ignores these guidelines. Is it time for a fresh period of reflection?
Session on Hacking consciousness; non-invasive probes into subjectivity
FOM 2 3105 Tolman Hall UC Berkeley
Aug 14 2015 10 am to noon
Chair; Justin Riddle (Ph.D. candidate, UC Berkeley)
While a century ago dreams were regarded as revelatory of true psychic dynamics, a later generation took to drugs for that same purpose. A new ethos is stressing invasive methods that essentially involve consent forms being signed by patients already stressed by imminent surgery.
While the results of this has been mixed, the fact remains that there already exists an array of tools that can shape experience without the risks of drugs or surgery. This session will investigate these tools, like TMS and EEG, and their results. It will feature discussion of synchronized gamma and whether it indeed is the signature of consciousness that many claim it is.
1pm – close Submitted papers
FOM 2 3105 Tolman Hall UC Berkeley
Aug 15 2015 10 am to noon
12-20 conference Keynote ; Stuart Kauffman
The following is intended as a non-coercive guideline for themes for paper submissions ie other themes are welcome;
Title; “One Magisterium; a new science-religion dialogue”
A Magisterium is an area of teaching authority. As we celebrate the 450th anniversary of Galileo’s birth, it seems clear that science has prevailed over superstition. The “new atheists” claim that there is indeed one Magisterium, that of science.
At first glance, it seems that science will continue its march to victory over the epistemological claims of religion, eventually reducing them to the null set. More consequentially, it is increasingly accepted among religious “thinkers” as among scientific such that the magisterium, the teaching authority, of science trumps that of religion. The result is a consensus that state power, based as it should be on natural law, itself a reflection of the natural order of things, will increasingly base itself on science.
The evidence seems overwhelming; on the positive side there are physical theories accurate in their predictions to a part in a trillion, print-outs of one’s genome for a few dollars, a steadfast adherence to the notion that the mind IS the brain and that the brain is being mapped. On the negative side there is in the epistemological domain the clear absurdities of the biblical account of creation and the notion of transubstantiation, let alone reincarnation, and in the social domain the horrors of religious terrorism and institutional child abuse.
Yet things are now not quite so simple. It would be a pity if citizenship was reduced to following the dictates of scientists we cannot understand; yet its mythic poverty is not the only limitation of science. For a start, “science” itself means knowledge and that gives little clue that science reflects a set of practices based on a set of logico-mathematical insights and related physical observations, from which it takes its impetus; most of its practitioners are not versed in the philosophy of science and are not aware of the controversial status of theory.
However, that type of brake put on the progress of “science” may only be the beginning. The Victorian universe was eternal; the modern one features creation from a single point, rough-hew this how we may. Indeed, the cosmos shows fine-tuning of physical constants in a manner that leads to complex conscious creatures driven to understand said cosmos, all the while debating furiously how these constants came to be just so. The Darwinian biosphere was atomistic chance and biological necessity; ours features far-from equilibrium conditions like the gaseous contents of the atmosphere that facilitate our existence. In fact, man is right back at the center of things in a way no-one dared to predict.
There are many other issues that beg explanation along these lines; in fact, it could be argued that we have gotten good enough t science to become aware of its limitations. For example, Goedel DID point out paradoxes about cognition in mathematical systems and the puzzling ontological status of infinite sets that indeed suggest access to processes that are outside the Turing/Church realm. It also is arguable that the observer is still enmeshed in state-vector reduction, with attempts to dispense with him still highly controversial
Indeed, the hitherto “subjective” notion of information is now immanent in third-person physics, as the idea of code is in biology. As we explore in mathematical physics, we find that concepts like symmetry, far from being psychological mechanisms, seem almost to have a deus ex machina status, guiding us to ever deeper insights into nature. Conversely, in areas like quantum field theory, we sometimes do “bad math”, with non-converging infinite series, where any number could be obtained, and yet it works. Both subtle and devious is the Lord.
This is not an attempt to re-introduce creationism; it is rather an attempt at broadening the debate. We can continue along the lines above. Folk psychology, rather than eliminative materialism, will prevail precisely because it is a more effective algorithmic compression for most people than eliminative materialism and it is attested in its strengths and weaknesses by tens of millennia of human societies. People striving for self-development will passionately, head and heart together, seek through the intellect the ground of Being, and/or attempt to eviscerate the self through compassionate action/observing it to death, and/or attempt to change the world, if necessary through artistic creation.
We can call such activities attempts at “ontological self-transformation”, in the manner that James Carroll characterizes his training for the priesthood as requiring that he “ontologically” transform himself. We can then speculate how this this notion of “ontological self-transformation” might map onto evolutionary as onto scholastic thought.
All these activities exist in the broader society outside the academy – indeed several of them, like the arts arguably work better outside it. This allows us to introduce a critical distinction between different movements in society, of which the academic is just one. In fact, as of the early 21st century, the academic sphere is mutating its role in society so quickly that it behooves us to attempt a prediction of its role; the academic sphere will fall to whoever can attract the brightest and most free-spirited young adults to spend 3-4 years under their discipline. The web means we no longer need a physical premises; the paralysis of science in controversies about the status of the “gene”, “dark matter and energy”, the “central dogma” and so on means that the truth-seeking passion of these kids can better be satisfied without state funding that turns them into idiot savants.
So much for the academic “magisterium”; it is in fact mainly an environment for the pedagogical process. According to thinkers like Drummond, there is but one magisterium in society; it unifies the movements misread as “science” and “religion”; it invokes as its highest value the further evolution of man singular, and humanity as a whole; it accepts the political and scientific progress made since the renaissance, and embraces scientific discovery; it does not accept greedy reductionism aka scientism. While its community, culture and ceremonies are yet to be formed, the notion that something must be considered as sacred, be it the organic psychological development of our kids or the integrity of the biosphere, is accepted. It is also clear that the corporate destruction of our higher nature requires a reply, and that the political space still exists for both an activist and a quietist response, with much of the tools still available free in western societies.
Papers are invited which:
– address any of the themes suggested above, whether agreeing or disagreeing – even if strongly – with the implicit and explicit contentions
- address the issue of overlapping, singular, or no magisteria
- address the issue of reductionism, failed or successful;
- consider the issue of ontology;
- contrast approaches to the fine-tuning problem
- Address such controversies as the horizon problem
- comment of the appropriateness in science of biology’s “central dogma”
- Propose mechanisms for macro-evolution, if necessary through code biology
- Propose appropriate types of reduction, for example from Biology to physics/chemistry and from psychology to neuroscience
- Consider the issue of truth, state power and authority in the space initially opened up by thinkers like Hobbes;
- Consider the ontology of Buddhism as expressed in the Pali canon vis a vis its psychologyQuantum fluctuations and God of the gaps for example what are the implications of the quantum mind hypothesis if true?
Lost and esoteric Christianities–for example, does Exodus 17:7 refer to an experience transcending Yahweh?
Registration & Submission Deadlines
June 16, 2015–500 word abstract and/or panel suggestion to: firstname.lastname@example.org
June 28, 2015–notification of acceptance
June 30, 2015–Early bird payment of $200 at http://www.foundationsofmind.org/donate/
The fee thereafter is $300 with $50 for individual panels. The conference is free for Cal students.