97 episódios

The primary objective of The Helix Center for Interdisciplinary Investigation is not to obtain knowledge, per se, but to aspire to an unhurried search for wisdom, emphasizing the centrality of a sense of wonder in this endeavor.

Philosophically, we stand against the trivialization of thought and the balkanization within and between the sciences and the arts. Fundamental to our promotion of these views is our roundtable format of open, spontaneous discourse, one facilitating novel encounters of questioning and understanding among participants. Each program endeavors to expand the boundaries of inquiry by facilitating a creative encounter with uncertainty in the face of scientific and artistic advances. To further nurture opportunities for creative social and intellectual exchange, we also sponsor musical performances, poetry readings, film screenings, and other opportunities for imaginative experience.

Visit https://www.helixcenter.org for more!

The Helix Center The Helix Center

    • Ciências naturais

The primary objective of The Helix Center for Interdisciplinary Investigation is not to obtain knowledge, per se, but to aspire to an unhurried search for wisdom, emphasizing the centrality of a sense of wonder in this endeavor.

Philosophically, we stand against the trivialization of thought and the balkanization within and between the sciences and the arts. Fundamental to our promotion of these views is our roundtable format of open, spontaneous discourse, one facilitating novel encounters of questioning and understanding among participants. Each program endeavors to expand the boundaries of inquiry by facilitating a creative encounter with uncertainty in the face of scientific and artistic advances. To further nurture opportunities for creative social and intellectual exchange, we also sponsor musical performances, poetry readings, film screenings, and other opportunities for imaginative experience.

Visit https://www.helixcenter.org for more!

    How Deep Do We Go? Behavior, Mind, and The 4-Billion-Year History of Life

    How Deep Do We Go? Behavior, Mind, and The 4-Billion-Year History of Life

    The starting point of this roundtable discussion is Joseph LeDoux’s book, The Deep History of Ourselves: The Four-Billion-Year Story of How We Got Conscious Brains. LeDoux’s research on how the brain detects and responds to danger helped jumpstart and define the modern science of emotion. After three decades, he came to the realization that the commonly received conception of human emotions as evolutionarily pre-formed states of mind is wrong. In The Deep History of Ourselves, he used the four-billion year story of life to explain why. His key insight was that single-cell microbes, the ancient ancestors of  modern day bacteria, had the same basic survival requirements we do—they had to detect danger, search for and incorporate nutrients, balance fluids and ions, and reproduce. When we do these things, we feel fear, hunger, thirst, and pleasure, and assume that these states underlie our behavior. But the purpose of these ancient processes has little direct relation to these psychological states, which came much later. Emotions, he concluded, result from our efforts to make sense of the significant moments in our lives. And to do this requires the precise kind of brain we have. Discussing these ideas with LeDoux will be experts from a range of scientific areas, including evolutionary biology (Niklas), the cognitive neuroscience of emotion (Lindquist), psychiatry (Hurowitz), and the philosophy of consciousness (Rosenthal).

    • 1h 58 min
    Mathematics and Other Realities

    Mathematics and Other Realities

    The question of what the world in which we live consists of is as old as mankind itself. In philosophical jargon, this is the question of the ontological basis of reality. With the growing success of physics and other sciences, the idea of one fundamental ontology, that of  particles and fields, became dominant as a physicalist version of ontology. However, as every hegemonial view creates alternatives, this one does too. This roundtable addresses two of them: (1) the Platonic idea that mathematics is prior to the tangible world of our experience, and (2) the idea of a tiered ontology, where each of its levels can achieve legitimate ontological significance. Both views reject the fundamental ontology of physicalist accounts, but they do so in different ways that will be discussed in this roundtable.
    For further reading: Relative Onticity – Harald Atmanspacher and Frederick Kronz

    • 1h 48 min
    Emergence of Empathy: Encountering The Other Through Fiction

    Emergence of Empathy: Encountering The Other Through Fiction

    Like sympathy, empathy derives from the Greek root pathos meaning “to endure or to undergo.”  It was coined in 1909 by a psychologist at Cornell University, Edward Bradford Titchner, who suggested the term as a translation of the German Einfühlung. According to Titchner, this emotional impulse to “feel into” something or someone is a strategy we employ to find in external examples solutions for our mental conflicts. Empathy, Titchner suggests, heals the self. Our readings of fiction, the ones that form our imaginary cartographies, define almost every one of our intimate experiences. Love, death, friendship, loss, gratitude, bewilderment, anguish and fear: all these and our own changing identities can be learned from conduct of the imaginary characters we meet in the books we love.

    • 1h 49 min
    Mechanization of Math

    Mechanization of Math

    Proof, in the form of step by step deduction, following the rules of logical reasoning, is the ultimate test of validity in mathematics. Some proofs, however, are so long or complex, or both, that they cannot be checked for errors by human experts. In response, a small but growing community of mathematicians, collaborating with computer scientists, have designed systems that allow proofs to be verified by machine. The success in certifying proofs of some prestigious theorems has led some mathematicians to propose a complete rethinking of the profession, requiring future proofs to be written in computer readable code. A few mathematicians have gone so far as to predict that artificial intelligence will replace humans in mathematical research, as in so many other activities.
    One’s position on the possible future mechanization of proof is a function of one’s view of mathematics itself. Is it a means to an end that can be achieved as well, or better, by a competent machine as by a human being? If so, what is that end, and why are machines seen as more reliable than humans? Or is mathematics rather an end in itself, a human practice that is pursued for its intrinsic value? If so, what could that value be, and can it ever be shared with machines?

    • 1h 48 min
    Lying

    Lying

    “Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?”
    This familiar courtroom oath unpacks some of the subtleties of truth-telling. Making true statements is not all there is to it. What one says may be true, but what is omitted in the telling may present a false picture. And one may tell the truth, but that testimony may be distorted by the commingling of some untruths.
    True statements come embedded in a matrix of linked propositions whose truth value we often cannot personally vouch for: Shakespeare wrote Hamlet, Oswald killed Kennedy, and quarks come in six flavors are good examples of such claims. Many true beliefs are built upon claims we must take for granted as foundational, typically based on authority or on what those around us believe to be the case. A false statement, told willingly and with foreknowledge of its falsehood, is how we define lying. But we can be misled by a simple and straightforward claim – especially if we are motivated to believe it – when some of its many underlying claims are distorted or manipulated for the purpose of dissembling.
    When it comes to liars, the subtleties deepen. It is often said that “pathological liars” believe the lies they make up, and this is what contributes to their lying and their effectiveness as liars. We hear people ask: “Did Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos know she was lying or were her claims merely wishful thinking?” Of the many notions, large or small, expressed by liars, how many are directly contradictory to their firsthand awareness of the facts on the ground and how many based on flimsy premises only dimly considered or validated? How many of these premises are highlighted out of proportion to other known facts or elided entirely just to make their case?
    There are numerous psychological and neuropsychiatric studies of liars, confabulators, and sociopaths. Tales of fabulists – Baron Münchausen perhaps the most well-known – make for popular reading just because each liar is unique, and the vicissitudes of their wishes and dreams present a thrill-ride of impending disclosure. The variety of “tangled webs” give some indication of what makes these tales so fascinating. Our panel today will be analyzing these many facets to what liars do when they are lying.

    • 1h 34 min
    Status

    Status

    A recent New York Times article proclaimed “status anxiety” one of the defining preoccupations of our time (Michelle Goldberg, “Status Anxiety and the Scam Economy,” March 15, 2019). But what are we really anxious about? What, in fact, is status and why do we want it? This Helix discussion will consider that complex question from a variety of different perspectives—historical, psychological, sociological, and biological. Together we hope to generate insights about what it is that so many of us pursue and think we want.

    • 1h 48 min

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