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To be or not to be? Public event examines question of human identity and consciousness

The New York Academy of Sciences, in partnership with the Nour Foundation, will present a public event, "To Be or Not to Be: The Self as Illusion" on Tuesday, December 7, at 6:00 pm.

Renowned philosophers Thomas Metzinger and Evan Thompson will join cardiologist and expert on near-death experiences, Pim van Lommel, to examine recent developments in neuroscience and philosophy that shed light on whether our conscious experience of a unified Self is reality or illusion. Krista Tippett, creator and host of Public Radio's Being will serve as moderator for the evening.

The event is the first in a unique six-part series of interdisciplinary conversations on identity, consciousness, and self-knowledge, examining the question "What is the Self?" Perspectives on the Self: Conversations on Identity and Consciousness will run from December 2010 through May 2011 and will bring together experts from the sciences and humanities to provide an objective overview of the evolving notion, construct, and experience of the Self, without losing sight of the subjective value that makes these matters so integral to each of us.

"The events will provide an interdisciplinary discourse of the meaning and experience of the Self from contemporary science and the humanities," said Sonya Dougal, program manager of the series at the New York Academy of Sciences.

A diverse roster of scholars including philosophers, cognitive scientists, physicists, historians, evolutionary biologists, neurobiologists, psychologists, sociologists, and theologians from universities around the world will engage in a series of interdisciplinary conversations that aim to afford a better understanding of the experience of the Self and the ways in which boundaries between self and non-self shape our common world.

In addition to Krista Tippett, event hosts and moderators include the public radio broadcast journalist Steve Paulson (To the Best of Our Knowledge), Newsweek senior editor Lisa Miller, National Institute of Mental Health Chief of Neuroendocrinology & Behavior Esther Sternberg, University of Colorado Philosophy Professor Robert Hanna, and London School of Economics Senior Lecturer Alex Voorhoeve.

Speakers in the series include distinguished philosophers Thomas Metzinger, Evan Thompson, Owen Flanagan, Raymond Martin, Simon Critchley, Shaun Gallagher, Elie During, and David Jopling; Harvard ethicist Frances Kamm; sociologist Norbert Wiley; psychologists Paul Bloom, Roy Baumeister, and Tim Wilson; theologians John Haught and Nancey Murphy; evolutionary biologist Ken Miller, historian Gerald Izenberg, Dutch cardiologist Pim van Lommel, and physicist and humanities professor V.V. Raman.


Contact: Adrienne Burke
New York Academy of Sciences

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