Special Talk on Addiction and Self

The Humanities Program invites you to this year’s second talk in its speaker series, “Emotion, Expression, and Value.” Prof. Philip Gerrans will speak on “Addiction and the Self: Crossroads Between Philosophy and Neuroscience” on Friday, June 9, 2017 (2-5pm, Room 1210). A Q & A will follow the presentation.

Philip Gerrans is currently professor of philosophy at the University of Adelaide, Australia and an associate of the Swiss Center for Affective Sciences in Geneva, Switzerland. His research centers on cognitive neuropsychiatry, developmental disorders, emotions, moral psychopathologies, and the use of psychological disorder to study the mind.

In Philip’s own words:

‘I’m interested in the relationship between cognitive neuroscience and psychology. I started out working on autism and theory of mind and issues in developmental psychology. I then became interested in psychiatry, especially delusions, writing a book, Measure of Madness, about the relationship between fundamental neuroscience and psychology and philosophy. I argued there that recent evidence from cognitive neuroscience supports the idea that delusions are essentially story fragments generated by neural systems which evolved to provide a subjective narrative context for experiences. This view contrasts with a view of delusions as causal explanations of experience. I explored the consequences of that contrast for integrative theories of cognitive function.

I have an ongoing collaboration with researchers at the Swiss Centre for Affective Sciences which informs my research into connections between emotional processes and self representation. Depersonalization disorder and personality disorders are a focus of this research, which links up with much earlier work I did on the Cotard delusion (in which people say they have disappeared or no longer exist). I think that that project will lead back to developmental psychology, since it seems many disorders have a source in the developmental relationship between emotional regulation and other aspects of cognition. The philosophical approach to the mind I find most congenial is exemplified in the work of people like Jesse Prinz, Kim Sterelny and Dan Sperber.’

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