Wildly interdisciplinary

Now and then, we hear a great lecture, followed by the discussion it evokes, and tick off a list of people who would have thoroughly appreciated both. Cary Wolfe’s talk this afternoon in the Humanities Center’s series on postHUMANities provided a prime example. Nominally about Wallace Stevens’ use of birds in his poetry, Prof. Wolfe used his discussion of Stevens’ poetics to develop points about, inter alia, ecology (whether it’s at all possible to fully delineate organism from environment, or to argue that organisms truly share the very same environment) and theory of mind (whether a mind develops or exists in an organism’s “wetware,” fully separate from its interactions with the “outside”), with some brief touches on economics, politics and ethics. For me, being weak in humanistic materials in which he assumed the audience would be well versed, yet able to recognize facility with scientific reasoning and results, the session provided a wonderful example of the variety of starting points and paths by which a good scholar can arrive at useful understanding.

Next up, on October 23: David Bates from UC Berkeley, whose interests include modern European intellectual history, history of media and technology and of political thought, cognition, epistemology, and artificial intelligence.

This is going to be an interesting series…

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