Neuroscientific models of the mind have tended to prioritize cognition, rational choice and decision making. Contemporary philosopher have also focussed in on consciousness. Meanwhile writers, artists and psychoanalysts have often found such models too limited and stressed the unconscious work the mind does and the sheer complexity of the inner life. Recently, however, neuroscience has begun to consider the activity of the mind in resting state and question whether our choices are in fact conscious.
Neuroscientist Patrick Haggard, presents a short film on his research on involuntary action and how we make choices and discusses this with Cambridge philosopher of mind, Tim Crane and the writer/director/actor, Simon McBurney, founder of the famous Complicité theatre. Lisa Appignanesi chairs.
Lisa Appignanesi is a British writer, novelist, and campaigner for free expression. She is a former president of the writers’ organization English PEN. Her latest book is All About Love: Anatomy of an Unruly Emotion. Her previous book, Mad, Bad, and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors won the 2009 British Medical Association Award for the Public Understanding of Science, amongst other prizes.
Simon McBurney OBE is an English actor, writer and theatre director. He is the founder and artistic director of Théâtre de Complicité company, known as Complicité. His diverse acting credits include roles in The Vicar of Dibley, The Manchurian Candidate and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and in 2010 he provided the voice of Kreacher in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Notable Complicité productions include Endgame, A Disappearing Number, Measure for Measure and, most recently, an ambitious and well-received staging of Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita.
Tim Crane is Knightsbridge Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge and a leading figure in the philosophy of mind. An anti-reductionist, he has argued that a phsyicalist account of consciousness is needed neither for metaphysical or scientific reasons. His second book, The Elements of Mind ( 2001) investigates what is known as ‘intentionality’. What is distinctive about human thought, he argues in more recent work, is the disinterested search for truth. He is General Editor of the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Patrick Haggard is Professor of Neuroscience at the University of London’s Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience. He has devised ingenious neuro experiments and published widely on the subject of intentionality , voluntary action, motor cognition, touch and self-representation. He made headlines for stating that ‘We certainly have no such thing as Free Will’. One of his current experiments is featured in the short film made for the series by Poppy Sebag Montefior.
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