thecenter

Activities and Seminars

Guillaume Thierry. Sit back, relax, enjoy the ride. Philosophical lessons from five years of seemingly scattered research.
 
Date: Feb 26, 2014

What: Sit back, relax, enjoy the ride. Philosophical lessons from five years of seemingly scattered research.

Where: BCBL auditorium


When: 12 noon


How does our brain construct meaningful representations of the world around us? Do these representations differ in speakers of one and two languages? Does language affect the perception and categorisation of things around us? Is there such thing as unconscious meaning processing? At the end of a five-year adventure investigating these kinds of questions, our research reveals the human brain as a voracious and automatic meaning processor mostly unaware of its inner workings. On the basis of examples in domains such as bilingual comprehension and production, linguistic relativity, and executive functioning, I will propose that our conceptualisations of meaning formation and decision-making may need drastic revision. A fully interactive, non-selective account of the human brain is largely inconsistent with modular views positing some functions (such as language) as encapsulated and relatively independent vis-à-vis other specialised brain systems such as face recognition or motor control. Taken together our findings form a constellation of clues that suggest unsuspected levels of processing automaticity and substantial limitations of conscious evaluation. We only have conscious awareness to understand the nature of the mind, yet most of what defines us and our understanding of the world comes from spontaneous, unconscious information processing that is wholly impenetrable. Human conscious awareness becomes a fine translucent layer covering a ­mostly unknown and likely gigantic­ mass of cryptic processes that deterministically drive our existence: Our inner world.