The enigma of Consciousness is perhaps the most fascinating mystery in the Universe. There are many hypotheses, on the basis of which we try to give an answer to the most difficult of problems but, wanting to schematize, all can be traced back to two broad categories: those that they recognize to the Consciousness an intrinsic existence independent, at least in part, from its physical substratum and those who instead consider the Consciousness entirely reducible to the electro-chemical-physical processes that take place in the brain. Whereas the latter fits well into the so-called Scientific Materialism, the former leads to a dualistic vision of Reality in which the external world obeys the laws of Physics and the internal one requires a different level of analysis.
The path in search of the solution winds between these two alternatives and passes through the answer to two fundamental questions:
- "Is Scientific Materialism capable of embracing the totality of Reality?"
- "Is a unitary vision of Reality possible in which Consciousness is not completely reducible to its neuronal correlates?"
In the absence of definitive and widely shared answers to these two questions, the study of consciousness and of the process through which we have cognition of the Reality must be fronted with a multidisciplinary approach that includes not only the neurosciences but also biology, artificial intelligence, the philosophy of science and epistemology.
Space has to be reserved for two disciplines that are apparently very different, but that, on the contrary, show very surprisingly, some convergencies: Quantum Physics, and contemplative practices. While the first constitutes the most advanced approach to the study of the physical world which also extends to phenomena that take place at the nanoscopic level in biological tissues, the latter allows one to explore in a profound and accurate way the aspects of the problem that are not accessible with objective methods and that concern the first-person experience.
For these reasons, the School will be organized in such a way as to explore the enigma of Consciousness from different points of view, with the participation of teachers who are experts in all these disciplines.
The School will take place in a residential form, thanks to a Convention between the University of Pisa and the Lama Tzong Khapa Institute, 35 Km from Pisa, renowned for the excellent quality of its study programs of Buddhist philosophy and psychology.
A specific space will be reserved for the experiential aspect in order to integrate the lessons with familiarization sessions with contemplative practices (Yoga and Meditation). The sessions will be conducted by highly qualified teachers with specific experience and will also be usable by the students who will attend the school online.
The 2022 edition of the Summer School Consciousness and Cognition is organized by the University of Pisa in collaboration with the Lama Tzong Khapa Institute, with the patronage of the Italian Buddhist Union.
The program will be activated both on-campus and online.
- (Philosophy): acquire a sensitiveness to the existence of a dimension of consciousness that overcomes the distinction between subject and object and understand its role in the current quest to explain consciousness, through a progression into insights drawn from Western philosophical approaches (especially phenomenology) and Eastern traditions and practices;
- (Quantum Mechanics) understand the basic principles of quantum mechanics to comprehend the subtler issues connected with the interpretation of the theory and their possible relevance for a discussion of consciousness, of the mind-body problem, and of the nature of reality itself;
- (Artificial Intelligence): learn the basic concepts and models of nature-inspired computational techniques, and know-how to apply them to a wide range of application areas. Students will be exposed to the advantages and challenges of using computationally intelligent systems with human-like capabilities in terms of reasoning, learning, and adaptation;
- (Biosemiotics): learn the basics of Biosemiotics and become acquainted with the semiotic nature of sign relationships both in biological and human-made systems, understand how cells act as semiotic units capable of interpreting their own environment through signs exchange, and eventually comprehend how to sign perception and epigenetic regulation are causally linked through differential gene expression;
- (Contemplative Practices): comprehend the vision of Eastern tradition (Hinduism and Buddhism) concerning Consciousness and its different levels and manifestations; learn the foundations, the characteristics, and the aspects of the different types of meditation;
- (Practice) become familiar with the experiential aspects of contemplative practices, through Meditation and Yoga sessions led by highly qualified teachers. The session will be usable also by students online.(Neurosciences and not Ordinary state of Consciousness): after a description of the neural networks, acting in the brain, and a survey on the main investigation techniques of the brain activity (Electroencephalography, FMRI), understand how self-induced not ordinary states of consciousness by natural drugs, hypnosis, dream, deep meditation, affect this activity;
- (Practice) become familiar with the experiential aspects of contemplative practices, through Meditation and Yoga sessions led by highly qualified teachers. The session will be usable also by student online.
Students enrolled in a Bachelor's or Master's Degree course, or people already in possession of the aforementioned qualifications or equivalent qualifications.
On campus attendance: 500 euro
Online attendance: 250 euro
- Identity Document (*PASSPORT in case you are a foreign student*)
- Enrolment Form
- Curriculum Vitae
For further information, please click the "LINK TO ORIGINAL" button below.