24 October 2018, 18.30 – 20.00

Einstein Visiting Fellow's Lecture: Vittorio Gallese (Parma/Berlin)

“Neuroscience and the bio-cultural turn”

Should we challenge the rigid dichotomy separating culture from nature? In my talk I’ll try to do it, by introducing the so-called ‘biocultural paradigm’, according to which culture can be considered as an extension or outgrowth of the natural. Any human technology is at the same time the expression of the human mind and of humans’ bodily nature, as the latter scaffolds the former. To paraphrase Helmuth Plessner, as human beings we are at the same time artificially natural and naturally artificial. In this vein, culture can be described as a naturally evolved type of human cognitive technology, and human cultural evolution can be conceived as a perpetually dynamic process of cognitive technological development: the first prehistoric lithic tools and the iPhone 7 used to shoot feature movies like Unsane (Steven Soderberg, 2018) represent two different and temporally distinct outcomes of the same bio-cultural dimension. I’ll show how neuroscience can be relevant to the bio-cultural paradigm, as it allows to empirically test, deconstruct, revise or even dissolve many of the conceptual tools we currently employ to discuss important aspects of human culture, like art, film, literature, and their reception.

Vittorio Gallese
Dept. of Medicine and Surgery, Unit of Neuroscience, University of Parma, Italy.
Institute of Philosophy, School of Advanced Study, University of London, UK.
Einstein Visiting Fellowship at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain (2016–2020).



Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
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Dr. Laura Kaltwasser
030 / 2093-1724
laura.kaltwasser-please remove this text-@hu-berlin.de