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Human beings do not merely perceive, judge, and desire. They also imagine. Whether the imagination is a faculty that we share with other animals is disputed, but it exerts a profound and transformative effect on human lives and human communities. Some of the most loved and most feared of the beings that populate our world are creatures of the imagination. Logicians argue that in all our thinking we tacitly consider the structure and properties of "possible worlds." Some psychologists hold that our knowledge of other minds is based in the ability to simulate mental states without directly experiencing them, and recent work on the role of mirror neurons in animal communication has suggested that imagination, or something like it, is operative in all animal communities that achieve a certain level of coordination. So, what is imagination? How does it work and what neural capacities does it call upon? How do humans discipline their imagination to focus their emotions on the real world, rather than being mislead into dead ends of fantasy and obsession? In the latest event in AEI's series on neuroculture, four distinguished speakers will discuss these concepts and questions as well as the research that bears on them.
SALLY SATEL, M.D., AEI
DAVID EAGLEMAN, Baylor College of Medicine
JOHN R. HORNER, Montana State University
CHRISTINE ROSEN, The New Atlantis
ROGER SCRUTON, AEI
Question and Answer
Adjournment and Wine Reception
Sally Satel, M.D., a practicing psychiatrist and lecturer at the Yale University School of Medicine, examines mental-health policy and political trends in medicine as a resident scholar at AEI. Her publications include PC, M.D.: How Political Correctness Is Corrupting Medicine (Basic Books, 2001); The Health Disparities Myth (AEI Press, 2006); When Altruism Isn't Enough: The Case for Compensating Organ Donors (AEI Press, 2009); and One Nation Under Therapy (St. Martin's Press, 2005, with Christina Hoff Sommers).
David Eagleman is a neuroscientist with joint appointments in the departments of neuroscience and psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. He directs the Laboratory for Perception and Action and is the founder and director of the Baylor College of Medicine's Initiative on Neuroscience and Law. His research areas include time perception, vision, synesthesia, and the intersection of neuroscience with the legal system. He is the author of several neuroscience books, including Wednesday Is Indigo Blue: Discovering the Brain of Synesthesia (MIT Press, 2009), and the forthcoming Incognito: The Brains behind the Mind (Pantheon, 2011) and Live-Wired: The Dynamically Reorganizing Brain (Oxford University Press, 2011). Mr. Eagleman has written for the New York Times, Wired, Discover, Slate, and New Scientist. His recent book of fiction, Sum (Pantheon Press, 2009), became an international bestseller, has been translated into twenty-three languages, and was named a Best Book of the Year by Barnes and Noble, New Scientist, and the Chicago Tribune.
John R. Horner is curator of paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies and Regents professor at Montana State University, two positions he has held since 1982. From 1975 to 1982, he worked at the Museum of Natural History at Princeton. His research covers a wide range of topics about dinosaurs, including their behavior, physiology, ecology, and evolution. He has written over eighty professional papers, twenty-five popular articles, and eight popular books (authored or coauthored), and he coedited one technical book. His work has been featured in numerous magazines and television specials. He was the technical adviser to Steven Spielberg for the movies Jurassic Park and its sequel, The Lost World. He also advised director Joe Johnston on Jurassic Park III.
Christine Rosen is an adjunct scholar at AEI and senior editor of the New Atlantis, where she writes about the social impact of technology, bioethics, and the history of genetics. She is the author of Preaching Eugenics: Religious Leaders and the American Eugenics Movement (Oxford University Press, 2004) and My Fundamentalist Education (PublicAffairs, 2005). Ms. Rosen's essays and reviews have appeared in publications such as the New York Times Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the New Republic, the Weekly Standard, Policy Review, the American Historical Review, the New England Journal of Medicine, and Commentary.
Roger Scruton, a visiting scholar at AEI, is a writer, philosopher, and public commentator. He has written widely on political and cultural issues as well as aesthetics, with particular attention to music and architecture. The author of more than thirty books, his most recent ones include The Uses of Pessimism (Oxford University Press, 2010); Culture Counts: Faith and Healing in a World Besieged (Encounter Books, 2007); A Political Philosophy (Continuum Books, 2006), a response to the development and decline of Western civilization; and The West and the Rest (ISI Books, 2001), an analysis of the values held by the West and how they are distinct from those held by other cultures. Mr. Scruton is also a founding editor of the Salisbury Review and the founder of Claridge Press, which is now part of Continuum International Publishing Group. He writes a column on cultural matters for the American Spectator and on wine for the New Statesman in Britain.