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Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

IAS Fellow's Seminar - 'The visible reminder of Invisible Light'*: Reason as 'openness to infinity' and the adventure of knowledge.

3rd February 2014, 13:00 to 14:00, IAS Seminar Room, Cosin's Hall, Palace Green, Dr Ulisses Barres de Almeida (Brazilian Center for Research in Physics, Brazil)

The image of Eliot's altar candles in the "Choruses from the Rock" seems to me as an appropriate metaphor for "reason", as it is through its light that we can truly perceive, apprehend and understand reality behind the surface of its appearances and in its endless layers of mechanisms, structures and meanings. In this brief exposition I would like to develop this image a little bit by sharing some thoughts which come from my concrete experience of dialogue within Euresis Journal, an online, interdisciplinary publication which I co-founded and edit since 2010. The main preoccupation behind EJ was to set up a forum to discuss some of the most relevant themes related to current scientific investigation, such as evolution, consciousness, neuroscience, as well as aspects of scientific methodology, without forgetting, nevertheless, the original and unifying factor at the basis of this edifice of knowledge: the human experience which is the origin and motor of the whole enterprise, and of which reason is the main actor. But our perception and use of reason has some shifting aspects to it, and nowadays a number of voices have been calling for the dangers in a conception of reason that is too much circumscribed and identified with the scientific method. Are these voices correct? And if so, what is more to reason that we are neglecting and that our daily work experience could help us understand? Can interdisciplinarity teach us something as well? These are some questions which I would like to open to reflection here, in an attempt to save my initial analogy: an image of reason that is much more like an "altar candle" than a lamppost or a simple reading light.

*Quote from T.S. Eliot's "Choruses from the Rock."

Fellows' seminars take place on Monday lunchtimes in the seminar room at Cosin's Hall.

Places are limited and so any academic colleagues interested in attending a seminar should contact the Institute in advance to reserve a place.

The aim of these seminars is to develop new thinking on the big issues that are of current concern/interest for the Fellows . Each Fellow is asked to present a core idea that informs their current work, or a problem that they are tackling, that could benefit from cross-disciplinary thinking. These seminars are informal and designed to encourage discussion.

Contact enquiries.ias@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.