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Primordial Questions about Consciousness

Description of the Meeting

The interest in the study on consciousness has undergone a noteworthy burst in the last few years, both at the level of academic institutions (several Institutes for the Study of Consciousness have been grounded in the United States and Europe) as well at the level of lay public, with a plethora of articles, books and TV programs. The reasons are manifold, and even contradictory: on the one hand the emerging deep interest in spirituality, on the other hand the science reductionistic approach of studying the brain and its functions in terms of scanning tomography, EEG, and other modern, powerful techniques.
But- what is consciousness? Many would say that is a property of the mind. But- how is consciousness formed, where does it come from, and does each of us has his/her individual consciousness, or there is some level of a-personality in it?
And- what question do we ask ourselves about our own conscious experience and which is the deep reason which motivates this questioning? Whether and to what extent is possible – and/or justified – to translate our own experience of consciousness into the realm of science?

Many questions, that complicate the issue and make it somewhat confuse. And the confusion is increased by the fact that many different people, with different background, address the question of consciousness utilizing each time different languages, definitions, biases.

The main point of our meeting will be to go back to the roots of the problem, rediscover the "Primordial questions about consciousness" and share theories, practices and methods in order to possibly reach a common basic level of understanding among different philosophical, spiritual and scientific traditions, and acquire semantics and conceptual common denominators to face the consciousness inquiry. During the meeting, scientists, philosophers and religious of East and Western cultures will address to the following three basic questions:

  1. Which is the primordial question to be asked about our consciousness?
  2. What methodology have you used in your research on consciousness, and to what extent such research has answered your primordial question?
  3. Do you have a pragmatic proposal to make first person experience inter-subjectively shareable?

In addition to theoretical expositions, one of the most original and important aspect of the meeting will be the experiential working sessions (practice work), in which some of the speaker will integrate their conceptual reflections by sharing with the others their particular practice to a first person experience. 

Practical aspects

In order to promote a deep dialogue, the meeting will not be the usual talk and run conference, but a workshop in which the participants could interact several times with each other and eventually mutually transform their original points of view. In this sense you may participate only by invitation from the organizing committee. You can of course apply for a place, writing to us, very shortly specifying your background and why you are interested, and we will be glad to answer, hopefully positively. The meeting will take place during the last week of June (Sunday 25th - Friday 30th) in Palazzo Loup, a wonderful village located in the Bologna Apennines (Loiano, Italy). Transportation to the place will be provided.

On Saturday July 1st, in Bologna, some of the speakers will make a tribute to Francisco Varela. The Chilean neuroscientist was one of the most important promoter of the philosophical, spiritual and scientific dialogue, and the first to be interested toward the contribute – for the comprehension of mind and human experience – of methods and knowledge coming from Eastern traditions. This is a public conference, everybody is welcome to attend!

Aula absidale Santa LuciaBolognaBologna

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