Online Guest Lecture by Louise Barrett, Prof. in Psychology, in DIAS
Studying mind in the Anthropocene—the “age of humans”—will benefit from an ever-deeper recognition of our status as animals, and the interdependence of organism and environment. This, in turn, requires we give up the idea of mind as a product of the brain alone, as a kind of hermetically sealed inference engine. We have made some progress in this direction in the cognitive sciences, with the rise of so-called “4E cognition”, but the message is not, it seems, getting through to those who are currently shaping our world, most of whom appear deeply invested in some form of transhumanism, and associated notions of transcendence: the assumption that we can and will escape the limitations of our “ape-brained meat-sacks”.
As a proud ape-brained meat-sack, I want to make the case for our beastliness, and dispute the idea that “nature is what we are put in this world to rise above” (as Katharine Hepburn’s character famously put in “The African Queen”). To survive the Anthropocene, we must learn to accept ourselves as porous, interdependent animal processes, not as atomised plug-and-play machines. As Pär Segerdahl has argued “… the opposite of human is not “animal” but the over-intellectualized, lofty idealizations of what it means to be human”.
As such, this talk represents an extension of Ed Baggs’ thoughts on the human sciences in the Anthropocene: not only do we need to abandon individualism, as Ed argues, but also our peculiar ideas of human exceptionalism.
Louise Barrett is Professor of Psychology, and Canada Research Chair in Cognition, Evolution and Behaviour, Department of Psychology, University of Lethbridge. She was educated at University College London, UK, and has a degree in Ecology and a PhD in Biological Anthropology. Her research programme centres on the issue of how ecology shapes patterns of social and cognitive evolution. To this end, she has conducted long-term studies of non-human primates—baboons and vervet monkeys—in South Africa. In addition, she also works on culture and biology intersect to influence human behaviour, along with aspects of philosophy of mind and cognition.
Stream via Zoom: https://syddanskuni.zoom.us/j/69732885543
This lecture is part of the DIAS Mind Group. Learn more here
This lecture takes place at the DIAS auditorium. The lecture will be livestreamed on our YouTube Channel.
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