Saturday, December 28, 2013

Preliminary schedule for conference “Foundations of mind; cognition and consciousness”

Preliminary schedule for conference “Foundations of mind; cognition and consciousness”

Sproul room, international house, UC Berkeley 6-7 Mar 2014

 Registration details for “Foundations of mind"  are at

Other themes may be found at

It also includes details of *Free* on-line courses in  consciousness studies and cognitive science for suitably qualified applicants

Proposed papers/posters presenters should send a 500-word abstract to by Feb 7 2014. We already have offers to publish the proceedings both from a peer-reviewed journal and an academic book publisher.

31 January - please note new panel with Len Talmy on symbols, thought and attention

Confirmed plenary speakers/panellists include

Stuart Kauffman (U Vermont)
Terry Deacon (UC Berkeley)
Henry Stapp (LBNL, UC Berkeley)
Ed Vul (UCSD)
Jacob Needleman (SFSU)
Jerome Feldman (ICSI, UC Berkeley)
Tom Griffiths (UC Berkeley)
Robert Campbell (Clemson U)
Mike Cole (UCSD)
José Acacio de Barros (SFSU/Stanford)
Mike Cole ( UCSD)
Christian de Quincey (JFK)
Sean O Nuallain (UoI)
Fr. Robert Spitzer (Magis institute)
Tony Bell (UC Berkeley)
Len Talmy (U Buffalo)

Conference chair; Sean O Nuallain (UoI)
Submissions/suggestions for panellists to
Abstracts max 500 words, please
Deadline is Feb 7 2014

"Note new deadline*

Thursday 6 March; schedule

8-30 am registration
9am  Jacob Needleman and Robert Spitzer will give 30-minute keynotes, followed by a discussion

It is now accepted that the Abrahamic religions, focused as they are on community solidarity based on the sacred and with it the supernatural, are inappropriate for environmental preservation even without their licensing of exploitation of the earth. Yet spiritual expressions based on emphasizing the unity of subject and object, self and environment, fail to give an adequate account of acts of mind that stress this difference. The ideal would be a spiritual system wherein both the extraordinarily unlikely nature of life and earth as well as the moral imperative to protect it would emerge as consequences from its ontology and metaphysics. Does  such a system exist or can it be created?

10-45 tea/coffee

Panel 1  for Mar 6
In general, each panellist will speak for 15 minutes; then the panel as a whole will discuss the issues for 30 minutes before opening matters up to the audience

11 am - 1pm Panel 1 Linearity, psychologism, and voodoo correlations

Speakers/panellists; Ed Vul (UCSD), Tom Griffiths (UC Berkeley, session chair), Tony Bell (UC Berkeley) Sean O Nuallain (UoI)

Gottlieb Frege famously excoriated the attempt to reduce logico-mathematical reasoning to a description of the psychological processes underpinning it as “ psychologism”. But, the response goes, these logico-mathematical entities are indeed processed in the brain, so surely it is neither quixotic nor formally incorrect to seek an appropriate psychological explanation for them. One such candidate explanation is a faculty psychology based on assignment of these faculties to the cerebral locations that fmri has been celebrated for finding.

Neo-Fregeans might have two responses. In the first place, the fmri results perhaps evince premature closure in their statistical analysis. Secondly, fmri's localizations are scalar entities in a cerebral system clearly capable of operating with vectors and even higher-order tensors .In fact, neo-Fregeans might argue, fmri implicitly makes extraordinary claims about the nature of scientific explanation, claims that are hard to justify.

Where does all this leave us?


Panel 2  for Mar 6
2-3-45pm Cognitive science and neuroscience

Speakers/panellists; Jerome Feldman  (ICSI, Berkeley), Robert Campbell (Clemson), Ed Vul. Mike Cole ( UCSD), Terry Deacon (UC Berkeley)

Science is a reductionist enterprise - we look for explanations of phenomena at more basic levels. This does not entail "eliminative reduction" where only the lowest level has explanatory power. Theory, modelling, and experiment at multiple levels is important and these should be consistent. For Cognitive Science, the ancient formulation of knowledge as truth may be a serious barrier to understanding the mapping of thought to neurobiology and beyond.

 3-45 tea/coffee

4pm Keynote; Stanley Klein
 5pm Submitted papers/posters

7pm Concert of celtic jazz to celebrate women's day; free for conference attendees

Mar 7, 2014, 2nd floor, International house, UC Berkeley

Friday's schedule

Keynote speakers Henry Stapp (LBNL), Tony Bell (UC Berkeley). Stuart Kauffman
9-30 Stuart Kauffman: Answering Descartes; beyond Turing
Respondent and session chair; Terrence Deacon

10-45 am break

11am Submitted papers and posters
noon Break

1pm Keynote; Tony Bell

2 pm  Panel 2 Quantum mind and is critics

Discussants: Henry Stapp, José Acacio de Barros (session chair), Stanley Klein   Carlos Montemayor and others

The Quantum mind  hypothesis essentially states that quantum effects are causative in will and cognitions, leading to an assertion of free will. It is no longer in doubt that there is a deep mystery associated with information, the mind, and reality, a mystery that results in paradoxical findings with observer status in quantum mechanics. It may be the case that our current concept of information is too coarse-grained; it may also be the case that conscious will is actually causative in the cosmos. Recently, the standard objections to Quantum mind on the basis of decoherence in biological systems have been refuted by discoveries that photosynthesis involves  quantum superposition.  Likewise, cognition shows effects readily explicable by quantum formalisms.  However, these effects may also be looked at in terms of neural systems as harmonic oscillators; or is this objection even relevant?

3-45pm Break

Symbols, thought and attention

Chair: Len Talmy
Moderator ; Ellen Thompson

Two burgeoning trends in 21st century cognitive science appear at first sight to pull in opposite directions. One is the re-emergence of Whorfian linguistic determinism; another is the insistence that bilingualism can retard the development of prion diseases like Alzheimer's. One might assume that the same holds for music and other symbolic systems. Yet a commonality is arguably to be found in the concept of attention; can it be the case that operating between two linguistic codes forces improved cerebral function simply because of the monitoring necessary? If so, surely it is appropriate to survey immigrants using languages like English which seem at first sight the same on both sides of the Atlantic?

5-45 final discussion
6pm close

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Conference announcement

In keeping with the program set out in the book “Two sciences of mind”, this conference distinguishes between foundational issues related to cognition, to be discussed on the first day, and those related to consciousness. The motivation for this division is primarily procedural; it is proposed that there are myriad issues associated with each that can be approached separately before an integrative strategy can succeed. In particular, it is suggested that the failure of fields like natural language processing to solve their fundamental problems are due to a mistaken assumption of linearity. Likewise, and perhaps related, consciousness studies continues to attempt to reduce our being-in-the-world to psychological processes, in the hope that an expanded concept of information will solve everything. In the vacua that have emerged, charlatans abound with nostrums about neuroplastcity, the “content industry” and oner-interpretation of single findings like those from mirror neurons retarding real neuroscience.

It is proposed that cognitive science must reflect, and equal in complexity, all explanation patterns attested in third-person science. Yet such third-person science involves constructs like vectors and curved space that would seem to be outside the explanatory ambit of scalar methods like fmri. In fact, for cognitive science to succeed in completing the cycle of explanation of the sciences, it must use all representational structures used in the academy.

Further cognitive themes can be found at

This will be held Mar 6-7 2014, Sproul Room at international house at UC Berkeley with Skype links to participants who cannot travel to the event

Henry Stapp (LBNL, UC Berkeley)

Ed Vul (UCSD)

Jacob Needleman (SFSU)

Jerome Feldman (ICSI, UC Berkeley)

Tom Griffiths (UC Berkeley)

Robert Campbell (Clemson U)

Mike Cole (UCSD)

José Acacio de Barros (SFSU/Stanford)

Christian de Quincey (JFK)

Sean O Nuallain (UoI)

Fr. Robert Spitzer (Magis institute)

Bernard Haisch (ManyOne Networks )

Interested in doing a full-time course? Visit

Consciousness studies has surely been one of the main intellectual failures of the past 20 years; there seems still to be a proclivity to attempt to identify consciousness with its content, and that in turn with an entangled nexus bathing us rather like amniotic fluid. On the second day, we propose distinguishing discussing consciousness from its content, and to explicate its relationship with the arts, with science, with political activism, and with religion, particularly in the context of fine-tuning.

Further themes can be found at

Inquiries and submissions for the conference to; the deadline for conference abstracts (max 750 words) is Feb 1 2014, 5pm GMT. Please note that we welcome papers that disagree with the premises of the workshop; the goal is to have a lively and informed debate.

We also welcome proposals for programme committee members, panellists and indeed plenary speakers, 510-642-9460