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One of the greatest questions we face is the nature of consciousness. Currently, the most widely accepted scientific framework is materialism: the idea that the world around us and everything in it, including ourselves, arises from the interplay of underlying material substances. Within this framework, consciousness is the result of brain processes. Yet, materialist neuroscience has not yet been able to pinpoint consciousness in the brain. Furthermore, the materialist framework does not explain the phenomenon of subjective experience, and leaves no room for human values, including meaning, compassion, and humanity. At this conference, we will explore different meta-physical frameworks that include materialism, but also alternatives such as idealism, that may contradict or complement materialism. Speakers will be renowned scientists from around the globe, representing neuroscience, philosophy and even theoretical physics.

Event details of The Science of Consciousness
Start date 2 November 2021
End date 4 November 2021

The Conference will take place on two afternoons on Nov 2nd and 4th, online. Each session will have three to four presentations and a panel session, with opportunity for questions from and debate with the audience. Sarah Durston is scientific chair.

Speakers and program


The organizers

The Essentia Foundation was founded in 2020 and aims to communicate recent evidence, both analytic and scientific, that materialism is a flawed metaphysics, and that metaphysical idealism or nondualism — the notion that nature is essentially mental — are models better suited to the current state of our science.

The Sentience and Science Foundation was also founded in 2020. It aims to connect first- and third-person perspectives in understanding consciousness. It supports and performs consciousness research and promotes the acceptance of a role for consciousness in science.

The University of Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Study offers outstanding researchers a haven - free from constraints of disciplinary boundaries - to work collaboratively on complex scientific and societal challenges. It brings together a collaborative research community that nurtures creative, transdisciplinary thought in pursuit of new knowledge, and creates a place for slow science. System's thinking and
complexity science methods are the 'common language' used to explore challenging interdisciplinary research topics.