How do we know the emotions and expressions, thoughts and intentions of others? Over the last twenty years two streams of research, one rooted in the neurosciences, another in the humanities, initially separate but increasingly joined, have cast dramatic new light on our capacity to mentally identify ourselves with persons or objects of contemplation. The discovery of mirror neurons, which simulate bodily movements and emotions in the brain, opened a new investigation of empathic response in humans and animals. Around the same time humanists "rediscovered" a nineteenth and early twentieth century research tradition in the physiology, psychology, and philosophy of art, architecture and social communication, which similarly described human modes of comprehending corporeal gestures and emotions. "Varieties of Empathy in Science, Art, and Culture," a Peter Wall Institute Exploratory workshop held in early October, brought together researchers across the sciences and the arts to engage current science with new historical and philosophical investigations.
Lunch and talk 12 to 1:30 pm, but welcome 11:45 to 2:00 pm.