Tag Archives: Interdisciplinarity

David Bates at the Humanities Center PostHUMANities series

The second lecture in the PostHUMANities series organized by Lehigh’s Humanities Center, was given by Prof. David Bates, chair of the Rhetoric Department at Berkeley University. His lecture, part of a project provisionally titled Human Insight: An Artificial History of Natural Intelligence, examined the history of artificial intelligence and cybernetics.

In a talk that spoke to historians of science and technology, media theorists, cognitive scientists, and anyone interested in the relationship between cognition and technology in a digital world, Prof. Bates argued that philosophical and scientific discourses of the mind and of technology both depend on analogies between cognitive processes and computational systems. Professor Bates highlighted the ways in which the brain has been seen to function like a machine and, inversely, machines have been understood to operate much like minds—from the early modern period to today. Continue reading David Bates at the Humanities Center PostHUMANities series

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…