Lectures start promptly at 7:30PM and are held on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month September 2021 through May 2022.  Our Fall meetings will begin with Zoom only for September and October.  Depending on the Covid situation, we may go to live meetings in November.  Links to the Zoom sessions are posted below the abstract of each talk


9-14-2021 Consciousness

Rob McKellar, Ph.D.

Consciousness is everything you experience.  It is the tune stuck in your head, the sweetness of chocolate mousse, the throbbing pain of a toothache, the fierce love for your child and the bitter knowledge that eventually all feelings will end.” – Christoff Koch

This talk will consider the astonishing little theater presented in our heads, seemingly encompassing the limits of reality for each of us, and thus, perhaps, in a metaphysical sense, truly defining the limits of everything.  

The word “consciousness” has a range of meanings.  Neuroscience has come a long way toward helping us understand consciousness as defined as: higher intelligence, information access, and self-awareness. Neuroscience also has given us a picture of the human brain as a myriad of specialized areas-- modules of unconscious parallel processing—that somehow erupt into a storm of brain-wide synchronization and other events that correlate with consciousness.  What is the purpose of these events and how do they give rise to the experience of consciousness?  In recent years, the burgeoning field of artificial intelligence, as inspired and informed by living neural networks, has led to computers that beat chess masters and quiz masters and drive cars; but can we ever expect computers to be conscious like us?  Consciousness, defined as sentience, especially with reference to those peculiar, personal, subjective phenomena (qualia), which we humans all claim to experience, but deny for computers, zombies, plants, and lower animals, is a profound mystery.  This has been called the “hard problem of consciousness” by philosopher David Chalmers.

A multitude of philosophers from before Plato and Aristotle through Galileo, Hobbs, Kant, Spinoza, Leibnitz, Locke, Hume, and James up through Wittgenstein, Ryle, and Dennett, have advanced theories of consciousness.  Among these philosophers, Descartes is notable-- identified with the notion of the presence of an immaterial mind in a material body-- the theory of Mind-Body Dualism.  But Mind-Body Dualism has the problem of explaining how these material and immaterial substances can interact.  Consequently, this discomfort with Dualism and the lure of the successes of science has led most modern thinkers to embrace some form of Material Monism which holds that the mind is somehow just something yet to be elucidated by neuroscience or cognitive science. But in the end, Materialist philosophers (other than those who “explain away” or dismiss consciousness as a mere epiphenomenon) remain stymied by the phenomena of qualia and the “hard problem of consciousness.”  

Quantum mechanics informs us that there is a role for the observer in collapsing wave functions and that quantum entangled particles can be linked mysteriously across the vastness of the universe.   Emergence Theory concerns how unexpected properties can emerge from collections of apparently simpler units, for example, how the wetness of water emerges from hydrogen and oxygen atoms or how the startling properties of living organisms emerge from the laws of chemistry and physics.  So, is consciousness, possibly, an intrinsic, fundamental property of everything in the universe (Panpsychism) which then emerges in Integrated Information Systems (Integrated Information Theory) or from metacognitive looping and recursion?

This talk will introduce but cannot fully develop this broad and complicated topic.  Consequently, a glossary and bibliography will be provided for further exploration and discussion.

Register for this session by clicking the link below:

https://ccsb.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJIuc-2vqjotG9wvJ4RpDfWUNTNxN4amzTJy  

9-28-2021 Reason, Emotion, and the Compassionate Revolution

Daniel Levine, Ph.D.,  UTA

This talk is a summary of my recent book Healing the Reason-Emotion Split.  The themes of the book are: (1) the cultural construct of reason and emotion as opposites is not supported by science; (2) this construct is harmful to society; and (3) the results from neuroscience and psychology can suggest ways of healing the split between reason and emotion for the benefit of society.  The book includes reviews of relevant findings in neuroscience and experimental psychology; a review of historical movements including the Enlightenment, Romanticism, and the 1960s counterculture; and recommendations for combining the best of these historical movements in ways supported by what we know about the brain and mind.

Register for this session by clicking the link below:

https://ccsb.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJMrcOqprDIsGNNVgOwZEQpclXttWSuqYjic

10-12-2021  A Local Response for Emerging Threats to Democracy

Clint Eubanks

Technology affects our lives more and more every day. What is the future of American democracy in a system that trusts computer networks with the voting data that is so fundamental to our American liberties?  Come explore the modern challenges facing our free society in the 21st century and add to the discussion about how to preserve our national heritage of individual freedom and civic duty during an age of technological and cultural upheaval.


Register for this session by clicking the link below:

https://ccsb.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJIuc-2vqjotG9wvJ4RpDfWUNTNxN4amzTJy  

10-26-2021  Life, Mortality, and Evolution

Paul Tobolowsky, M.D.

Relatively short individual life spans create lots of opportunities for mutations that overall lead to better adaptation and a wider range of possibilities. Mortal bodies plus evolution beat potentially eternal bodies stuck in old forms. My concerns include technological inadequacy when the format is unknowable in advance during the Covid era, and the potential for clash with Creationists.


Register for this session by clicking the link below:

https://ccsb.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJMrcOqprDIsGNNVgOwZEQpclXttWSuqYjic

11-9-2021  Emergin Models of Religious Universalism or Are the Brahmins Winning the Battle for Credibility? 

Robert Hunt, Ph.D.

I’ll explore how the values of diversity and human dignity are emerging as the marks of a credible religion, augmenting or even displacing a focus on reason and evidence.


Register for this session by clicking the link below:

https://ccsb.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJIuc-2vqjotG9wvJ4RpDfWUNTNxN4amzTJy  

11-23-2021  A History of the ADHD Mind

Bryan Rigg, Ph.D.

Throughout most of Homo sapiens existence, the Hunter or ADHD type of mind ensured survival. The development of agriculture around 10,000 years ago changed how populations grew and what genes were passed on.  The new type of Farmer brain became dominant to the present. This lecture will examine the evolution and the differences between the two dominant forms of brains in the human population, the Hunter or ADHD and the Farmer or nonADHD types.


Register for this session by clicking the link below:

https://ccsb.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJMrcOqprDIsGNNVgOwZEQpclXttWSuqYjic

12-14-2021  Should All Speech be Protected?

David Pruessner, J.D.

The United States is one of the few major nations that legally protects public speech that expresses hatred toward groups, even if based on race, religion, or sexual orientation.   We will explore the question of whether all speech should be protected, including “speech” via actions, such as cross burnings, protests, and picketing.  We will also explore the question of who truly regulates speech: the government or private owners of property and corporations?

Register for this session by clicking the link below:

https://ccsb.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJIuc-2vqjotG9wvJ4RpDfWUNTNxN4amzTJy