We are in the midst of a “Brain Boom,” with enormous research effort and funding devoted to studying the workings of the human brain based on new technologies. The field is at a stage like genomics prior to the Human Genome Project, with initatives such as the US Brain Initative just starting and the potential for accelerating research. This research promises to lead to a much richer picture of our cognitive architecture, and the complex relationship between brain function and behavior. Yet it also raises challenges regarding how neuroscience relates to our self-conception, and to other fields. Neuroscientists have challenged psychology, for example, based on their ability to create concepts that seem to perform better than traditional psychological concepts in predicting behavior. On the other hand, various central aspects of our self-conception, such as regarding ourselves as conscious agents, capable of free choices for which we can be held morally responsible, are challenging to reconcile with neuroscience.
In recognition of these dramatic advances in the field of neuroscience, and the philosophical questions that stem from them, the Rotman Institute of Philosophy is pleased to announce our theme for the upcoming academic school year — The Brain Boom: How Neuroscience is Changing How We Understand Ourselves. The year-long series of events officially launches with our upcoming interdisciplinary conference, Rethinking the Taxonomy of Psychology. Please check back soon as we announce other events, including a series of talks in the fall, held at the London Public Library, public and academic lectures, panel discussions, and more.