Center for Values in Medicine, Science and Technology Lecture Series - Stephen Asma: Evolution of Imagination and Creativity

Wednesday, February 21, 2018, 7:30 p.m.
Venue: JO 2.604
Admission: Free
Season: 2017-18

About the Lecture:

Imagination is a major part of our inner lives. Indeed, it makes up a “second universe” inside our heads. We invent animals and events that don’t exist, we rerun history with alternative outcomes, we envision social and moral utopias, revel in fantasy art, and meditate on what we could have been and what we might become.

Guided by neuroscience, animal behavior, evolution, philosophy, and psychology, Dr. Stephen Asma burrows deep into the human psyche to look right at the enigmatic but powerful engine that is our improvisational creativity—the source of our remarkable imaginational capacity. Imagination is neither a miraculous muse, nor a mechanical module of the mind. Instead, Asma argues, it is one of our earliest forms of embodied cognition.

About the Author:

Stephen T. Asma is Professor of Philosophy at Columbia College Chicago, where he is also Senior Fellow of the Research Group in Mind, Science and Culture. 

Asma is the author of ten books, including The Evolution of Imagination (University of Chicago Press, 2017), The Evolution of Mind: Affective Roots of Culture and Cognition with Rami Gabriel (Harvard University Press, forthcoming), On Monsters: an Unnatural History of Our Worst Fears (Oxford University Press), and The Gods Drink Whiskey (HarperOne). 

He writes regularly for the New York Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and Skeptic magazine. He has also written for the Sunday Times, the Chicago TribuneAeon magazineBig Think, and many others.

In 2003, he was Visiting Professor at the Buddhist Institute in Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia, and in 2007 he lived and studied in Shanghai China. Asma also researched Asian philosophies in Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Mainland China, and Laos. And in 2014, he was a Fulbright Scholar, teaching philosophy in Beijing, China. 

Asma has been an invited lecturer at Harvard University, Brown University, the Field Museum, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Fudan University (Shanghai), Xi’an Jiaotong University, University of Macau, School of the Art Institute, and many more.

Stephen Asma is also a blues/jazz musician who has played onstage with many musical artists, including Bo Diddley and Buddy Guy.

 



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