News and Events: Upcoming Events

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17 November 2014, History of Humanities and Science meeting

Speaker: Machiel Keestra & Chao Kang Tai
Date: 17 November 2014
Time: 15:00-17:15
Location: Room A2.08, OMHP, Oudemanhuispoort 4-6, Amsterdam

Dear all,

Our next History of Humanities and Science meeting will be on Monday 17 November with two talks that aim to bridge several disciplines at our university. Next we will give an update on the future of our Center (funding, courses, new journal).


15.00-15.45: Machiel Keestra: "Increasing interdisciplinarity and convergence of the humanities and sciences. Taking another look at 'cultural neuroscience'."

Abstract: Since the 1970s, neuroscientists have provided more and more insights into cognitive or psychological functions that were previously thought to be beyond the limits of their scientific methods, like free will, consciousness, empathy, understanding, aesthetics. Their results showed that such functions are underpinned by neural mechanisms, which are observable with these methods. However, more recent studies suggest that the cultural environment of these neural mechanisms has a greater impact on their development and behavior than was previously thought. In my thesis 'Sculpting the space of actions: explaining human action by integrating intentions and mechanisms' ( ) I have analyzed such interactions with regard to intentional action. In this presentation I will discuss studies of the self, empathy and aesthetics which urge for an increasing integration of neuroscience with the humanities into a 'cultural neuroscience'. What does such an interdisciplinary collaboration imply for the humanities? Does it imply their 'naturalisation' or rather a more complex convergence with neuroscience?

15.45-16.00: Coffee/tea

16.00-16.45: Chao Kang Tai: "The Scientific and Political Persona: Searching for the Interrelations in the Astronomy and Marxism of Anton Pannekoek"

Abstract: In the early twentieth century, Anton Pannekoek gained prominence as both an astronomer and a Marxist. He himself tried to separate these two aspects of his life, and so far historians and biographers have followed him in this. In my research, on the other hand, I will attempt to bridge this divide by searching for the connections between Pannekoek's Marxism and astronomy, in an effort to present a more unified image of his entire body of work. In my talk I will first describe the framework of epistemic virtues which I use to determine the ideal scientific persona of Pannekoek. Then I will discuss how this framework can be adapted to investigate Pannekoek's ideal Marxist persona. Ultimately the goal is to show that both the scientific persona and the Marxist persona are essentially similar "technologies of the self", created to overcome the perceived weaknesses of human nature, only applied to different fields of research.

16.45-17.15: Update on Center i.o.

Looking forward to seeing you again.

Rens, Julia and Jeroen

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