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Catching Sight of Our Self

Monday 1st November - 06:00 PM GMT

Catching Sight of Our Self

Is knowing thyself and understanding our consciousness an impossible dream?

From the self-help industry to the contemporary focus on mental health, the ancient Greek maxim 'Know Thyself', is very much in fashion. But many would argue it is an impossible dream. We can't catch sight of ourselves, and the attempt to do so often leaves us lost and confused. What's more, from the notorious serial killer Ted Bundy to drug addicts who's lives are in ruin, individuals can be well aware of their failings but unable or unwilling to change.

Should we see knowing ourselves as a dangerous philosophical mistake and instead focus on specific and practical change instead? Is the illusion of self knowledge a reason to reject psychoanalysis in favour of alternatives like behaviour therapy? Or is knowing ourselves, not only a real possibility but a vehicle for improving our lives?

Pioneer of modern understanding of ancient myths Betty Sue Flowers, Award winning journalist Anil Ananthaswamy, renowned psychiatrist Ian McGilchrist and Professor of Philosophy Bence Nanay are joined by our host, Professor of Religion and Science Mary Jane Rubenstein to ask if we can ever truly know ourselves.

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18.00 BST - Headline Debate - Arena

18.50 BST - Q&A Session - Arena

19.00 BST - Meet the Speakers Session - Lounge

19.15 BST - Documentary Screening - Cinema

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Anil Ananthaswamy

Anil Ananthaswamy is an award-winning journalist and former staff writer and deputy news editor for the New Scientist magazine. He is a 2019-20 MIT Knight Science Journalism research fellow.

His second book, The Man Who Wasn't There, on the nature of the human self, was long-listed for the 2016 Pen/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award and the journal Science said it was "reminiscent of the writings of Oliver Sacks".

Betty Sue Flowers

Betty Sue Flowers pioneered the modern, psychological appreciation of ancient myths alongside the esteemed Joseph Campbell - whose work was famously the inspiration for the Star Wars franchise. Betty Sue acted as a consultant on the groundbreaking documentary, The Power of Myth, and co-authored 'Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future'.

Iain McGilchrist

Iain McGilchrist is psychiatrist and writer, best known for his book 'The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World.' A former Consultant Psychiatrist at the Bethlem Royal, his new book 'The Matter With Things' explores the ways to truth and what is true.

Bence Nanay

Bence Nanay is Professor of Philosophy and BOF Research Professor at the University of Antwerp and has worked as a film critic. He's written several books on aesthetics, perception and action, including 'Aesthetics: A very short introduction.

Catching Sight of Our Self

All In The Mind
Exclusive Documentary Screening

Kiwi brain development specialist Nathan Wallis journeys around the motu to present compelling science about a very big life question: do men and women think differently?

 Presenter Nathan Wallis brings neuroscience to life using dynamic experiments, real-life wisdom, and easy-to-use information. He’s a scientific rock-star for your brain waves - well-dressed but down to earth, super-smart but with a Southland burr.

All In The Mind follows Nathan around New Zealand laboratories in the vanguard of brain research as he makes entertaining and educational discoveries. Along that way he explores underlying ideas about brain plasticity, gender stereotypes and biological gender with intersex activist Mani Bruce Mitchell. Mani shares her extraordinary personal journey through gender identity, as Nathan asks whether our brains really set us apart, or is that difference essentially a prejudice? Is the male brain different to a female brain, or is it ‘all in the mind’?