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Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Thinking with Feeling Workshop

8th November 2008, 11:00 to 18:00, Lecture Room 20, Pemberton Building, Palace Green

Since the writing of Plato, the dominant Western model of knowledge has rested on the assumption that we think with our minds and not our bodies, and that rational consciousness is an entirely separate activity from the processes that underpin our lives as bodily creatures. Recent work in philosophy and psychology, however, has re-examined this mind-body dualism and now approaches consciousness, and therefore thinking, as an embodied activity.

In this new model of mind, feeling is an intrinsic part of rational thinking and essential to the human capacity to make judgements. The idea was first explored in evolutionary terms in Charles Darwin's seminal work, The Expression of the Emotions in Humans and Animals (1872). Here, Darwin developed the idea that the emotions are fundamentally adaptive and basically evaluative in orienting the organism to its environment. Human beings could neither think nor thrive without them.

Though this idea is only now being developed by scientists, in fact poets and novelists have for centuries sought to represent and explore human consciousness in ways that are fascinatingly close to what psychologists are now establishing as the working methods of the mind. Our understanding of human consciousness is progressing through a genuinely interdisciplinary exploration which brings together the arts and the sciences. A series of one-day workshops will explore these themes across literary studies, philosophy and psychology and from the medieval to the contemporary period.

Contact p.n.waugh@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.

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