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A Bridge to the Future: From Curse of Fatalism to The Era of Mind

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Edmund Burke Lecture Theatre, Arts Building

Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin

College Green

Dublin 2

Ireland

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A lecture by Prof Ian Robertson, author of The Stress Test (2016) as part of the Trinity Long Room Hub 'What does it Mean to be Human in the 21st Century? ' lecture series.


A Bridge to the Future
Prof Robertson will first argue that this uniquely human quality is the ability to imagine things that have not happened or existed before, and to work purposefully towards realising them.

The Curse of Fatalism
Second, he will argue that humanity’s potential to imagine and realise the future is being limited by a fatalism that lies in three historical eras of thinking.

The Eras of God, Physics and Biology
For millenia, humans believed themselves to be under the control of mysterious supernatural forces - this was the Era of God. Then came the Enlightenment, culminating in the magnificent theories of Rutherford, Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr and others in the early 20th century. This was the Era of Physics. Then came the discovery of the structure of DNA by Crick and Watson. This was the Era of Biology.

The Era of Mind
Now, however, we are facing into a new era, whose currency is neither gods, electrons nor molecules, but information, whose medium is the human mind. The Eras of Physics and Biology were so successful in making our lives better, that we are understandably reluctant to discard the principal assumption of the Enlightenment, namely materialism.

Materialism, with its sister concept reductionism, is the assumption that ultimately reality can be reduced to the behaviour of its fundamental, smallest particles, and that includes the reality of human behaviour and its manifestation in culture, society and economics. As Ernest Rutherford put it “everything is physics – all the rest is stamp collecting”. If you believe that your lot in life is predetermined by gods (Era of God), entropy (Era of Physics) or genes (Era of Biology), then you will be cut off from harnessing the remarkable capacities of the mind to change itself and as a result alter physical, social and economic reality and so diminish that quintessentially human capacity to imagine and create the not-yet-existent.

About Ian Robertson
Ian Robertson is a clinical psychologist
 and neuroscientist with a unique ability
 to apply his research to the pressures of everyday life. His books, Mind Sculpture, The Mind’s Eye; The Winner Effect, and Stress Test have been translated into many languages and he is widely recognised as one of the world’s leading researchers in neuropsychology. He is Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Trinity College, Dublin and co-Director of the Global Brain Health Institute. Robertson is the first psychologist in Ireland to have been elected a member of the Royal Irish Academy and is also a Member of Academia Europaea.

Prof Robertson has published over 400 scientific articles in leading journals, including Nature, Brain, Journal of Neuroscience, and Psychological Bulletin. He has also contributed to public communication and understanding of science, contributing regularly to The Times and The Daily Telegraph, he was also a columnist for the British Medical Journal.

About the series
'What does it Mean to be Human in the 21st Century?' is a new cross-disciplinary lecture series which will reflect on how we understand ourselves, the world, and our place within it.

The lecture series is organised by the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute in partnership with The Dock, Accenture’s global research and incubation hub in Dublin.

This new series will bring some prominent international academic and industry voices to Trinity to discuss the human experience of today and its future in the face of accelerated change brought about by artificial intelligence and technology.

A broad ranging series of talks traversing the humanities, sciences, arts and social sciences, join us in 2019 for an unmissable snapshot of human progress; who we are, where we are, and where we’re going.

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Edmund Burke Lecture Theatre, Arts Building

Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin

College Green

Dublin 2

Ireland

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