Thinking the Self

A forum for interdisciplinary approaches to cognition and mind, Thinking the Self explores the nature of human experience from perspectives ranging from art and literature, cognitive and neuro-science, clinical medicine, philosophy, and psychology. The group focuses on the making and unmaking of the self. Topics might include: the ambivalent connections between brain trauma, psychic trauma, and identity; memory and narrative; creative thought; distributive personhood; the performing self; the self "under siege" -- in dementia, in intense pain, and at the end of life; the case study method. The group examines questions such as: What does it mean to have no memory but to have a personality? What is "emotional richness" and what does it mean to lose it? What connects and distinguishes human experience from the life of non-human or robotic beings? What is at stake in selfhood when the brain is considered to be a plastic organ, capable of radical and ongoing reorganization?

Past Events

Symposium | February 19, 2016

A multidisciplinary and cross-cultural consideration of the various manifestations and theories of the imagination.

Berkeley Book Chat | September 16, 2015
Irina Paperno

Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures Irina Paperno gives an account of Tolstoy's lifelong attempt to find adequate ways to represent the self, to probe its limits, and to arrive at an identity not based on the bodily self and its accumulated life experience.

Film + Conference | April 30, 2015 - May 01, 2015

This conference brings together scholars and medical professionals from areas of neurosciences, behavioral sciences, and humanities to answer questions about what it is to be a person.

Conference | November 14, 2014 - November 15, 2014
Violence, Justice, and Practices of Remembrance

This conference explores transcultural forms and practices of memory in a global age, and their evolving effects on conceptions of justice. Speakers include keynote Marianne Hirsch, Saidiya Hartman, Rosanne Kennedy, Dirk Moses, Michael Rothberg, Eelco Runia, Silvia Tandeciarz, Vilashini Cooppan, and Françoise Vergès.

Roundtable | May 08, 2014

Didier Fassin (Institute for Advanced Study) will discuss his book Humanitarian Reason: A Moral History of the Present (UC Press, 2011) with UC Berkeley faculty.

Lecture | April 29, 2014

Thomas Metzinger is professor of theoretical philosophy at the Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz. His research focuses on analytical philosophy of the mind and philosophical aspects of neuro- and cognitive sciences, as well as connections between ethics, philosophy of the mind, and anthropology.

Conference | April 25, 2014

This conference is dedicated to the exploration of the methodological underpinnings of the current encounter between Buddhism and cognitive science.

Conference | April 18, 2014
Catherine Malabou

This one-day conference will explore reports of near-death experiences as well as fictions of after-death journeys from the perspectives of psychoanalysis, philosophy, anthropology and film.

Una's Lecture | April 14, 2014
Catherine Malabou

2013-2014 Una’s Lecturer Catherine Malabou is professor of philosophy at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy at Kingston University in London. Her work has created the foundation for a wide range of current research focusing on the intersections between science and the humanities. Her public Una’s lecture, entitled Odysseus’ Changed Soul, will offer a contemporary reading of Plato’s myth of Er.

Workshop | April 11, 2014

This workshop will bring together diverse scholars interested in the historical and conceptual problems of life, particularly the life of human beings in the neural age.

Lecture | April 07, 2014

Sandra Laugier is professor of philosophy at Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, a Senior Fellow of the Institut Universitaire de France, and head of the Sorbonne Center for Contemporary Philosophy. This lecture will explore care and the ordinary, following a thread of Wittgenstein’s philosophy that takes us beyond the “grammar” of the first person, the use of psychological verbs, and the nature of states of mind.