AUC students participate in International Interdisciplinary Seminar in UK
From 1-6 January 2017, AUC science students George Jenkinson and Sachith Mendis joined AUC lecturer Sebastian De Haro and a group of Amsterdam graduate students and professors to attend the week long International Interdisciplinary Seminar at Netherhall House in London.
They were part of a group of eight interdisciplinary representatives which included a combination of physicists, philosophers, neuroscientists and other scholars. Such an interdisciplinary team was necessary in order to tack the fascinating subject of the seminar: “What differentiates people from animals and machines”. The topics of the lectures during the seminar ranged from the development of economics, to questioning the validity of a species-based taxonomy, to the philosophy of the mind.
AUC students lecture on ‘emergence’
The two AUC students also gave a lecture to supplement Sebastian de Haro’s talks on the subject of emergence. Emergence is a phenomenon which bridges physics and philosophy. Essentially, it is the idea that some properties cannot be described as being ‘a sum of their parts’. A rough analogy can be made with the interdisciplinary approach, where traditionally disparate disciplines are synthesised into one whole, giving rise to insight that neither discipline could provide independently. De Haro discussed the philosophical conception of emergence and reduction and some of its applications in physics problems, and the students illustrated some of these applications with an example from quantum mechanics.
On to Cambridge
The group then made an academic visit to Cambridge where they had lunch with Jeremy Butterfield, a fellow at Trinity College and the philosopher whose paper provided the foundation for their presentation. De Haro and the two AUC students attended a lecture on the philosophy associated with multiverse theories and fine-tuning arguments for the early universe, delivered by Rodney Holder, physicist, theologian and fellow at St Edmund’s College.
Concluding with presentation by Baroness Susan Greenfield
The lectures were brought to a close by Baroness Susan Greenfield, a prominent British scientist with a background in pharmacology, as well as classics and history. She presented the central theme of her book, A day in the life of a brain, which brought together ideas from classical art and contemporary culture with recent neuro-scientific studies and analogies derived from physical concepts to argue for Greenfield’s model of consciousness and experience.
The students would like to thank the AUC Student Research Travel Fund Committee for allowing them to attend and present at the seminar.