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Joseph LeDoux (Professor of Neural Science and Psychology, NYU) (Virtual), Our Four Realms of Existence: A Fresh Look at the Science of What and Who We Are
15 December 2023 | 17 h 00 min - 18 h 30 min
Joseph LeDoux is Director of The Emotional Brain Institute, NYU, Professor of Neural Science and Psychology, NYU, & Professor of Psychiatry and Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, NYU Langone. He is a world expert on emotions.
Video of the talk
Humans have long thought of their bodies and minds as separate spheres of existence. The body is physical—the source of aches and pains. But the mind is mental; it perceives, remembers, believes, feels, and imagines. Although modern science has largely eliminated this mind–body dualism, people still tend to imagine their minds as separate from their physical being. Even in research, the notion of a “self” that is somehow distinct from the rest of the organism persists. But such ideas are increasingly barriers to discovery and understanding, and a new framework is needed. I propose that a human being can be characterized as a composite or ensemble of four fundamental, parallel, entwined realms of existence that reflect our evolutionary past and account for our present ways of being—biological, neurobiological, cognitive, and conscious. All four are, deep down, biological. But the neurobiological realm transcends the mere biological, the cognitive transcends the mere neurobiological, and the conscious transcends the mere cognitive. We each exist uniquely within our own realms every moment of adult life, and together our realms account for all of what and who we are. The four realms also give us a novel understanding of how an individual person, social group, culture, or species, similar to, and different from, other individuals, social groups, cultures, and species.