What does art reveal about ourselves, and why does it matter? In a sneak preview of his forthcoming new book, Strange Tools: Art and Human Nature, the philosopher and cognitive scientist Alva Noë will make the case for thinking of works of art as tools for investigating ourselves in his Erasmus Philosophy Lecture on 13 May 2015.
Noë will raise a number of profound questions during his lecture: What is art? Why do we value art as we do? What does art reveal about our nature? Drawing on philosophy, art history, and cognitive science, and making provocative use of examples from all three of these fields, Noë offers new answers to such questions. He also shows why recent efforts to frame questions about art in terms of neuroscience and evolutionary biology alone have been and will continue to be unsuccessful.
Noë works on the nature of mind and human experience. He is the author of Action in Perception (MIT Press, 2004); Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain, and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2009; Dutch translation: We zijn toch geen brein? Rotterdam: Lemniscaat, 2012); and most recently, Varieties of Presence (Harvard University Press, 2012). The central idea of these books is that consciousness is not something that happens inside us, or to us. It is something we do. Alva's new book on art and human nature, called Strange Tools: Art and Human Nature (Macmillan) will be released on September 15, 2015.
Alva Noë is a writer and a philosopher living in Berkeley and New York. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1995 and is a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is also a member of the Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences and the Center for New Media. He previously was a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He has been philosopher-in-residence with The Forsythe Company. Alva is a 2012 recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship and a former fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. He is a weekly contributor to National Public Radio's science blog 13.7: Cosmos and Culture.