“Just Atoms and Molecules? Or Something More?” Screening and discussion of Searching: Our Quest for Meaning in the Age of Science

Wednesday, April 12, 2023 at 5:00pm to 7:00pm

Building 10, 250 222 memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA

Join us for a screening of clips from “SEARCHING: Our Quest for Meaning in the Age of Science” and comments from MIT’s Alan Lightman, Nancy Kawisher, Kieran Setiya producer/director Geoff Haines-Stiles (Carl Sagan’s COSMOS)…and YOU!

Lightman, MIT Professor of the Practice of the Humanities and host of the new public television mini-series “SEARCHING: Our Quest for Meaning in the Age of Science”, will be joined by series director/producer Haines-Stiles to present a 45-minute selection of key scenes, followed by a panel discussion with MIT faculty and students, and then open-mic Q&A with the audience.

The series explores the philosophical, ethical, and theological implications of cutting-edge science (distant galaxies, gravitational waves, particle physics, brain science, Al, computers, and more) and asks such questions as: “How do we humans fit in the grand scheme of things?” and “How do complex human experiences such as consciousness and falling in love arise from a material brain composed of atoms and molecules?”

The select video clips includes conversations with Nobel-Prize-winning biologist Jack Szostak, who is trying to create a living cell from the chemicals present on primitive Earth; Bina48, one of the most advanced humanoid robots; MIT neuroscientist Robert Desimone; Ruth Faden, a leading bioethicist; Rabbi Micah Greenstein, a celebrated religious leader; His Holiness the Dalai Lama; and Fabiola Gianotti, Director General of CERN, the giant particle accelerator in Geneva Switzerland. Other scenes include computer graphics of the Big Bang and element production in stars, demonstrations of emergent phenomena, including fireflies, termite cathedrals and the human brain, and a final sequence at an observatory on the top of Jungfraujoch.

MIT faculty joining Lightman and Haines-Stiles in the post-movie panel are neuroscientist Nancy Kanwisher and philosopher Kieran Setiya. Nancy Kanwisher’s group at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research studies the functional organization of the human brain as a window into the architecture of the mind. Kieran Setiya works mainly in ethics, epistemology, and the philosophy of mind, and has written about love, regret and rights. Most recently, he is the author of a self-help book, Midlife: A Philosophical Guide, and a number of essays in public philosophy.

Registration encouraged: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/just-atoms-and-molecules-or-something-more-tickets-585852008127

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McGovern Institute for Brain Research
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