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Research seminars

The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion Research Seminars are held at 1.00 p.m. on alternate Tuesdays in the Garden Room, Library Building, St. Edmundís College. A free light buffet lunch and drinks are served from 12.30 p.m. onwards. All are welcome.

The Garden Room is on the ground floor of the Library Building which is located in the far left-hand corner as you enter the College grounds. The free buffet lunch is served there.

Michaelmas term

The Neurobiology of Beauty and Its Implications

Prof. Semir Zeki FRS

Tuesday October 10, 2017

Garden Room, Library Building
St Edmund's College
Mount Pleasant
Cambridge
CB3 0BN

Abstract

The experience of beauty, regardless of its source (i.e. whether it is visual, musical, moral or highly cognitive) correlates with increased neural activity in a part of the pleasure and reward centre of the emotional brain, the medial orbito-frontal cortex (mOFC). This raises interesting questions about both the nature of beauty and its uses. Charles Darwin and many others considered beauty of importance in sexual selection. Philosophers like Plato and physicists like Paul Dirac considered mathematical beauty (whose experience also correlates with activity in mOFC) to be the highest form of beauty because they believed that it gives us knowledge of the Universe. In light of the results summarised above, it is perhaps useful to consider beauty under two very separate headings – (i) biological beauty, which is largely constrained by inherited brain concepts that are similar in all humans and artefactual beauty which is modulated by brain concepts acquired throughout post-natal life and hence is subject to greater variability between humans. Paradoxically, mathematical beauty, which is perhaps the most extreme form of beauty that is dependent on culture and learning, belongs to the biological category. This is because it is strongly dependent on the brain’s logical, deductive system, which is essentially similar in all brains.

Mathematics and the Beauty of God

Prof. David Watts

Tuesday October 24, 2017

Garden Room, Library Building
St Edmund's College
Mount Pleasant
Cambridge
CB3 0BN

Gravity, black holes and ultimate reality

Prof. Christine Done

Tuesday November 7, 2017

Garden Room, Library Building
St Edmund's College
Mount Pleasant
Cambridge
CB3 0BN

Ritual, Community, and Conflict

Prof. Harvey Whitehouse

Tuesday November 21, 2017

Garden Room, Library Building
St Edmund's College
Mount Pleasant
Cambridge
CB3 0BN


Further information about the Speakers may be obtained by clicking on the speaker's name above.