UCL European Institute


Conceptions of Freedom II: Neuroscience

20 January 2017, 12:00 am


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Internationally-renowned neuroscientist and musician Daniel Levitin in conversation with Lucy O'Brien, Professor of Philosophy at UCL, on the construction of 'internal freedom'.

Friday 20 January
IAS Common Ground
South Wing
Wilkins Building
Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT

In this second discussion in a series on Conceptions of Freedom, Daniel Levitin, internationally renowned neuroscientist, writer and musician, will reflect on what the pioneering field of neuroscience has to tell us about the construction of internal freedom, or its limits. Given what we know about the workings of the brain, how can we think about the relationship between thought and emotion, the processes of making decisions, or those involved in creativity? At the microscopic level of synapses and neurological networks, how do we understand our capacity for reflection and self-reflection, or our sense that we are free agents? Professor Levitin will be in conversation with Lucy O'Brien, Professor of Philosophy at UCL, with a special interest in the study of mind and action, as well as self-consciousness and self-knowledge.

The premise of the series is that 'freedom' is hardly a unitary category, and that the theories we have to talk about it often don't capture either the lived experience of 'being free', or the complex relationship between external liberty and internal autonomy. We would therefore like to think about the various meanings and templates of freedom, as these are conceived in various bodies of thought and practice: psychoanalytic, religious, scientific or artistic, as well as the more familiar traditions of political philosophy.

Conceptions of Freedom is conceived and chaired by Eva Hoffman, Visiting Professor at the UCL European Institute, in collaboration with the Institute of Advanced Studies.
Image (C) 'The unnamed' (Creative Commons Licence)