Home Morningside Events - Morningside Area Alliance Lectures Minding what Matters: Philosophy in Neuroscience


Apr 11 2024


4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Formats (virtual, in person, hybrid)


Minding what Matters: Philosophy in Neuroscience

Minding what Matters: Philosophy in Neuroscience 

The fluid boundaries between philosophy and the sciences during the 19th and early 20th centuries enabled pioneers like Hermann von Helmholtz and Santiago Ramón y Cajal to draw inspiration from philosophical inquiries as they embarked on their explorations of the nervous system. Since then, scientific tools and methods have become more specialized, embedding theoretical assumptions once probed throughout empirical practice, while sharpening the divide between philosophy and neuroscience.

Today, many view philosophy and neuroscience as distinct, non-intersecting pursuits. Yet, even as scientists use contemporary neuroscientific methods to answer more and more questions, many conceptual quandaries persist: What do neurons represent? What is the nature of perceptual experience? What counts as behavior? Philosophical inquiry remains urgent in neuroscience, since such questions cannot be settled by amassing data alone.

Join us for a conversation with moderator Stuart Firestein, during which three philosophers – Paul Linton, John Morrison, and Nedah Nemati – discuss their work and collaborations, so as to challenge the divisions between philosophy and neuroscience and address the perennial question at the heart of it all: What is the relationship between the mind and brain?

All Columbia and Barnard ID holders welcome! Event will be followed by discussion and reception. Those without access to Jerome L. Greene Science Center should register to be added to the guest list.



Paul Linton, Presidential Scholar in Society and Neuroscience, Fellow of the Italian Academy, member of the Kriegeskorte lab, Columbia University

John Morrison, Professor and Chair of Department of Philosophy, Barnard College; Director, Cognitive Science Program, Columbia University

Nedah Nemati, Presidential Scholar in Society and Neuroscience, member of the Tosches and Kelley labs, Columbia University

Moderator: Stuart Firestein, Professor of Biological Sciences, Columbia University


Supported by: Presidential Scholars in Society and Neuroscience and Zuckerman Institute