It's great to be back after a couple of fallow weeks in blog terms and now on our new fantastic web site.
Without question the highlight of the last two weeks was Professor Stephen Pinker's lecture last Thursday. Speaking to his most recent book The Stuff of Thought, he outlined the ways in which language reflects our perceptions of the world. One of the ways he illustrated this was an exploration of function and content of expletives. I couldn't help thinking that the venerable Barry murals have never witnessed such a constant stream of swearing. Those of you with a strong constitution will be able to watch this lecture soon on RSA Vision.
The serious point that Pinker is making actually follows on from Kant. He argues that by analysing language we can understand the conceptual framework of time and space hard wired into our brains. However, the world we see and describe is not the world as seen by the theories and observations of physicists. Our sense of the world does not equate with the physical properties of the world. Arguably this is also true of our experience of consciousness - the ghost in the machine - and the reality of our bodies and brains as physical entities. More on this as I continue my thinking about neurological reflexivity, building to my speech on the 30th.
The brain and its evolution is the subject of a recent report related in the Telegraph today, and last week New Scientist's cover story was on the search for a mathematical theory explaining the brain. New findings seem to be coming out all the time about our brains, how the work at every level, and how we relate to them. This is all fascinating stuff, but as we seek to understand ourselves we mustn't allow this to crowd out the thorny problem of understanding one another, arguably this is the even greater intellectual prize.
As we begin to imagine the post-pandemic world, we need to challenge our use of old metaphors to allow for new narratives and better futures to emerge.
With the post-Christmas resolutions looming, when we try to address the worst of our seasonal over-indulgences, the question remains: how can we give up bad habits for good?