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In the Light of Evolution VII: The Human Mental Machinery

Organized by Camilo J. Cela-Conde, Raúl Gutiérrez Lombardo, John C. Avise and Francisco J. Ayala
Co-sponsored by Centro de Estudios Filosóficos Políticos y Sociales Vicente Lombardo Toledano

This meeting was held January 10-12, 2013 at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center in Irvine, CA.


Scholars consider a comment in Charles Darwin’s Notebook C to be one of his first insights into human nature. As Darwin noted, our mental machinery makes us different. For instance, it allows us to ask about ourselves, about what a human is. It allows us to question what we are and the meaning of the way we are. One thing we have discovered is that humans possess certain unique mental traits. Ethic and aesthetic values are among them, and they constitute an essential part of what we call the human condition. This Colloquium brought together leading scientists who have worked on several aspects of human morals and aesthetics considered as mental traits, their evolution, and their relationship with related behaviors in other primates.


Talks were recorded and links will be updated here as videos become approved and available.

Friday, January 11

                I.    Theory of Mind 

Theory of Mind: Darwin’s legacy, John Searle, University of California, Berkeley

Human mind and brain – pathological evidence, Robert E. Clark, University of California, San Diego

Theory of Mind in Other Primates, Robert M. Seyfarth, University of Pennsylvania

                 II. Cognition

Evolution of Working Memory, Peter Carruthers, University of Maryland

The evolution of episodic memoryNorbert Fortin, University of California, Irvine

Natural Basis of Cognition, Terrence J. Sejnowski, Salk Institute for Biological Studies

Human and Animal Consciousness, Michael T. Alkire, University of California, Irvine

Co-Evolution: Culture, mind and brain
, Chet C. Sherwood, George Washington University 

                Keynote Address

Unusual and Exceptional Capacities of the Human Mind
, James L. McGaugh, University of California, Irvine    

Saturday, January 12

                 III. Evolving Piece by Piece: Levels of Modularity in Neurobiology

Neuronal Networks of the Moral Judgment,
Patricia Churchland, University of California, San Diego

Pathological Altruism
, Barbara A. Oakley, Oakland University

Theory of Justice in Non-Human Primates, Sarah F. Brosnan, Georgia State University

Evolutionary Dynamics of Altruism
, Martin Nowak, Harvard University

Human and Animal Neuroeconomics, Michael Platt, Duke University

                 IV. Aesthetics

Music and the Brain, Robert Zatorre, Montreal Neurological Institute

Aesthetic and Ethnic Emotions, Oshin Vartanian, University of Toronto, Scarborough

Aesthetic Perception: Mind and Brain , Camilo J. Cela-Conde, University of the Baleares Islands, Spain

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