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The primary objective of The Helix Center for Interdisciplinary Investigation is not to obtain knowledge, per se, but to aspire to an unhurried search for wisdom, emphasizing the centrality of a sense of wonder in this endeavor. Philosophically, we stand against the trivialization of thought and the balkanization within and between the sciences and the arts. Fundamental to our promotion of these views is our roundtable format of open, spontaneous discourse, one facilitating novel encounters ...
 
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To join webinar as an audience member, click here A testament to its ubiquity, STRESS is woven into our very words, our thoughts and our emotions. We stress words to give them emphasis. We stress wood to make it stronger rather than splinter. And we feel distress, both when overwhelmed with dread, but also sometimes in joyous anticipation. The chas…
 
To join webinar as an audience member, click here Placebos “work” for quite a few medical problems. But how? And what is the work they do? What one thinks a medicine is capable of, one’s idea of that medicine, may affect us in the way “proper” medicines do. This implies that, in observing the work of a placebo we are watching an idea affect biology…
 
***Due to coronavirus, this roundtable will be hosted virtually. To join webinar as an audience member, click here “Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.” – James Madison, Federalist Paper No. 10 Populism refers to the political mobilization of “the people” against a perceived elite caste o…
 
***Due to coronavirus, this roundtable will be hosted virtually. Memory is not a dusty cellar, open treasure chest, or sealed pandora’s box. It is a dynamic process, a stream of renditions and reflections. It conveys to us not what strictly happened, but embeds us in a retained internal moment, in an external encounter, or an imprint from another’s…
 
***Due to coronavirus, this roundtable will be hosted virtually. Justice is blind, the saying goes, which means that a person’s particulars – their social status, race, gender, etc. – should have no bearing on fair judgement in any legal dispute. By this standard, we are all considered equal before the law. In A Theory of Justice, the philosopher J…
 
The question of what the world in which we live consists of is as old as mankind itself. In philosophical jargon, this is the question of the ontological basis of reality. With the growing success of physics and other sciences, the idea of one fundamental ontology, that of particles and fields, became dominant as a physicalist version of ontology. …
 
Like sympathy, empathy derives from the Greek root pathos meaning “to endure or to undergo.” It was coined in 1909 by a psychologist at Cornell University, Edward Bradford Titchner, who suggested the term as a translation of the German Einfühlung. According to Titchner, this emotional impulse to “feel into” something or someone is a strategy we emp…
 
Proof, in the form of step by step deduction, following the rules of logical reasoning, is the ultimate test of validity in mathematics. Some proofs, however, are so long or complex, or both, that they cannot be checked for errors by human experts. In response, a small but growing community of mathematicians, collaborating with computer scientists,…
 
“Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?” This familiar courtroom oath unpacks some of the subtleties of truth-telling. Making true statements is not all there is to it. What one says may be true, but what is omitted in the telling may present a false picture. And one may tell the truth, but that testimony may …
 
A recent New York Times article proclaimed “status anxiety” one of the defining preoccupations of our time (Michelle Goldberg, “Status Anxiety and the Scam Economy,” March 15, 2019). But what are we really anxious about? What, in fact, is status and why do we want it? This Helix discussion will consider that complex question from a variety of diffe…
 
The goal of this discussion is to examine shame as a social mechanism. When, why, and how do we shame each other? Who profits from shame? Who maintains power or gains power through shame? When is shame valid, and when is it simply mean and cruel? Or utterly pointless? How is shame delivered in the age of big data? The urgency of this conversation i…
 
What underlying conceptual questions prompted this new characterization of our planet’s present era? What does this imply for the distinctions we have become accustomed to: between human subjects (however varied) and the non-human realm, between nature and artifice, between agency and objectivity? These conceptual questions are not simply academic;…
 
With billions of stars and galaxies in the observable universe, the possibility of life elsewhere has intrigued both scientists and philosophers alike. In this roundtable, we will explore the notion of life in the universe and what it might look like elsewhere. See recent news from one of our participants: https://news.yale.edu/2019/02/04/yale-astr…
 
If a biologist were asked for a single word that would appropriately point to the essence and substance of biology, the word might be Life. It stands for the essential unity of that subject despite the enormous range of different interests of biologists—from proteins to the behavior of elephants to medical applications. Is there an analogous ’unify…
 
Ancient Egyptians placed animal and bird heads on divinities’ bodies, in an embracing worldview wherein both gods and beasts extend and transcend the human ken. In his scientific extension of this ancient mythology, Darwin’s 1872 The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals explored non-human sentience. The affective neuroscientist of our era,…
 
Proof, in the form of step by step deduction, following the rules of logical reasoning, is the ultimate test of validity in mathematics. Some proofs, however, are so long or complex, or both, that they cannot be checked for errors by human experts. In response, a small but growing community of mathematicians, collaborating with computer scientists,…
 
Psychoanalysis ushered a new era of understanding psychiatric conditions which lasted half a century. The advent of psychopharmacology moved the focus back to the importance of diagnosis and selection of the appropriate medication. As we learn more about the brain, with increasingly sophisticated technology, we are looking towards a revolution in d…
 
The Creative Turbulence roundtable is the culmination of the Creative Turbulence art exhibition—on view at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute from the afternoon of Saturday, June 9th through Saturday, June 16th—of four artifacts fusing art and science in a collaborative creative process embodying the physics of fluid dynamics, turbulence, and co…
 
Science can stake its claim to truth on the evidence of its empirical success accounting for reality. Does it therefore follow, necessarily, that science can lay claim to its universality? Does reality cohere in such a way that we are ultimately seeking a reductionistic account of it in toto, as some would argue is promised by physics? Or is realit…
 
Schopenhauer described boredom as “a tame longing without any particular object,” Dostoevsky as “ a bestial and indefinable affliction,” and poet Joseph Brodsky as “time’s invasion of your world system.” Unsurprisingly, not many can describe boredom even though most have felt it, and it is one of the central preoccupations of the age. The most curr…
 
The rapid development of technology in the modern era has inspired a movement known as transhumanism. Envisioned is a near future in which human bodies and minds will be transformed and enhanced through genomics, pharmaceuticals, nanotechnology, robotics, artificial intelligence, and any number of prosthetic devices inside and outside our bodies. A…
 
From Xenophanes’ 6th c. BCE theory of divine intellection imbuing, comprehending, and organizing the cosmos, through Nicholas of Cusa’s 15th c. definition of mind as “the limit and measure of all things,” through Hume and his Enlightenment kin’s aspiration to be the “Newton of the mind,” to the naturalized explanations of contemporary cognitive sci…
 
The multi-directional relationship between science, art, and society is in great need of repair. Due to the casting out of beauty from art and validity of facts from science by Postmodernism, art and science both suffer from a disconnect with the public.This disconnect is well reflected in the lack of funding for the arts and the lack of science li…
 
STEAM – or ScienceTechnologyEngineeringArtMathematics – is the hot topic educational movement sweeping our nation and the world. Growing out of the emphasis to get more students in STEM subjects to remain a scientific and technologically advanced nation, STEAM was born in 2008, and advocates for the integration of arts and design learning in STEM. …
 
The multi-directional relationship between science, art, and society is in great need of repair. Due to the casting out of beauty from art and validity of facts from science by Postmodernism, art and science both suffer from a disconnect with the public.This disconnect is well reflected in the lack of funding for the arts and the lack of science li…
 
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