We are a group of young theoretical physicists and mathematicians with a deep interest in questions related to the scientific study of consciousness and the relation between mind and matter. It seems to us that despite growing research activity and scientific visibility of this area, there are at this point only very limited possibilities for researchers with a background in mathematics or physics to interact and exchange ideas in this field. It is for this reason that we are organising a series of seminars "Progress and Visions in the Scientific Study of the Mind-Matter Relation" which allows ideas and results to be presented, the understanding of which may require a certain familiarity with mathematical or physical concepts. Our goal is to create a seminar which has an open-minded, non-dogmatic and respectful atmosphere.
For the sake of logistical simplicity and to enable the greatest level of participation for both speakers and the audience, this is run as an online seminar. We have invited established researchers to explain their ideas to the audience. Following each talk, there is time for questions and discussions.
The following list of questions, far from being complete or exclusive, is deliberately broad so as to give an impression of the general purpose of the event and of the kind of topics to be presented and discussed.
What are the phenomena and (structural) properties, associated with consciousness which various researchers have tried to capture so far or which could guide one to develop future models?
Which principles have been used implicitly or explicitly in designing models for mind-matter interaction (such as complementarity in dual aspect monism)? Can new ones be found? Do these principles play analogous roles to principles in physics (such as the principle of least action, energy conservation, action-reaction, equivalence principle)?
Are there novel or unusual mathematical structures which can be used in the context of the mind-matter relation? Which mathematics have been used so far? How do they reflect changes in the paradigms connected to mind and matter?
Which insights can the modern theories in physics, in particular their fundamental open problems, provide for modelling mind-matter? E.g, concerning the nature of time or the measurement problem.
How do the various attempts relate to predictive power? Is there recent experimental progress concerning the biophysical or psychological basis?
We are aware of the fact that our broad guiding questions rest on assumptions and questions which have been highly debated in the long tradition of philosophy of mind. Insights from these debates should inform the topics and discussions of our seminar. The seminar itself, however, is not conceived of as a continuation of these debates but rather as an opportunity to bring together researchers who have developed explicit, mathematically oriented ideas and approaches – they may or may not assume specific positions in the philosophy of mind.
We are providing a professional video conferencing platform to carry out this seminar which is of course completely free for participants and speakers. This platform, which is very simple to handle, ensures smooth and unbroken interaction and will in particular allow questions to be asked and discussions to be carried out just as in a regular seminar.
We gratefully acknowledge the support of the platform GotoMeeting.com.
Johannes Kleiner (Institute for Theoretical Physics, University of Hanover)
Robin Lorenz (Department of Computer Science, University of Oxford)
In case of questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.