Thursday, November 8 2018
4:00pm - 5:00pm
Georgia Tech Stephen Hall Room 102, Atlanta, GA
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SPP Speaker Series: Machiel Keestra

The recent emergence of neuro-disciplines like neuro-economics, neuro-anthropology, neurophilosophy and neuro-politics is exciting for those working in these ‘neurofied’ disciplines, as much as for cognitive neuroscientists and philosophers. New neuro disciplinary research and answers can help to elucidate relevant interactions between our
brains and domains of our culture and society. Yet, neuro-disciplinary research can also lead us astray when flawed concepts, methods or results are employed, and the wrong conclusions are drawn. The challenge for inter-disciplinary research is to properly integrate insights from both fields involved - from cognitive neuroscience and the respective ‘target discipline’.

Machiel Keestra will analyze an example of such ‘neurofication’: neuro-theology. After a brief consideration of the notion of ‘interdisciplinary integration’, he will analyze how neuro-theological research is being conducted and discuss its underlying assumptions and research paradigms. How come that neurotheological research often involves the neuro-imaging of meditating Buddhist monks? Is there a place for the historical and institutional nature of religion in neurotheology? Such questions will lead to a critical evaluation of neurofication that is also relevant for other neuro-disciplines.

Having studied philosophy and psychology, Dr. Machiel Keestra’s PhD was about the philosophy of cognitive neuroscience. Tenured at the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Amsterdam he is currently visiting fellow of the Center for Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. He is past president of the international Association for Interdisciplinary Studies.

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