17 May 2012 to 23 May 2012
Venue: Fisher & Paykel Applicances Auditorium, Owen G Glenn Building, 12 Grafton Road
Cost: Free admission and all are welcome. No booking required
Contact info: For further information phone 373 7599 ext 87698
A series of three lectures by Professor Alison Gopnik.
17, 21, 23 May 2012.
The philosophical baby: What children’s minds can teach us about the big questions
Philosophers and psychologists used to think that babies and young children were irrational, egocentric and amoral. But the last 30 years of scientific research has completely overturned that view - in some ways children are smarter, more caring and even more conscious than adults are. This new view of babies and young children has brought new and sometimes startling insights about some of the Big Questions of philosophy: questions like How can we find the truth? Where does consciousness come from? What is the nature of morality?
Alison Gopnik is a professor of psychology and affiliate professor of philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley. She received her BA from McGill University and her PhD from Oxford University. She is an internationally recognised leader in the study of children’s learning and development and was the first to argue that children’s minds could help us understand deep philosophical questions. She is the author of over 100 journal articles and several books including Words, thoughts and theories (co-authored with Andrew Meltzoff), MIT Press, 1997, and the bestselling and critically acclaimed popular books The Scientist in the Crib (co-authored with Andrew Meltzoff and Patricia Kuhl) William Morrow, 1999, and The Philosophical Baby; What children’s minds tell us about love, truth and the meaning of life, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2009. She has also written widely about cognitive science and psychology for Science, The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, New Scientist and Slate, among others. And she has frequently appeared on TV and radio including “The Charlie Rose Show” and “The Colbert Report”. She has three sons and lives in Berkeley, California with her husband Alvy Ray Smith.
• Lecture 1 - Thursday 17 May: The power of possibility: Truth, imagination and learning.
How can we ever come to understand the world around us? And, even more puzzling, how do we learn from imaginary tales of fictional characters? Those questions are even more vivid for young children who learn so much so quickly, and who spend hours in fantastic pretend worlds. I will show that truth and imagination, learning and play are closely connected from very early in our lives. Even the youngest children use the same techniques for learning about the world as the most brilliant scientists. And I will explain the link between these scientific techniques and the literary imagination.
• Lecture 2 - Monday 21 May: What is it like to be a baby? Consciousness, attention and memory.
The conventional wisdom is that babies and young children are less conscious than adults are. I will show, based on both neuroscience and psychology that, in fact, babies may be more conscious than adults, and in particular more vividly aware of the world around them. Moreover the consciousness of babies and young children may be qualitatively different from the consciousness of adults, in ways that illuminate the nature of consciousness itself.
• Lecture 3 - Wednesday 23 May: Love and law: Caregiving and morality.
For most parents, having a baby is one of the most morally and spiritually profound, and unique, experiences of their lives. At the same time new studies show that even infants have many of the foundations of morality in place. And yet philosophers and theologians have said very little about children. I will argue that many of our deepest moral and spiritual feelings are rooted in the relationships between children and the people who care for them.
Admission is free and all are welcome. Evening parking available for $6 in lower levels of Owen G Glenn Building. For further information phone (09) 373-7599 l ext 87467.
Full list of Robb Lecturers:
1968 Professor John Kenneth GALBRAITH, Harvard University.
1970 The Hon. Sir Steven RUNCIMAN, eminent historian of the Byzantine empire and church: The eastern churches and the secular state.
1972 Professor W.D. BORRIE, Professor of Demography, Australian National University, Canberra: Population, environment and society.
1973 Sir Macfarlane BURNET, Professor of Experimental Medicine at University of Melbourne; winner of the Nobel Prize for medicine: The biology of aging.
1974 Dr W.H. PICKERING, Director, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology: Exploring our solar system.
1975 Professor W.J.M. MacKENZIE, Edward Carol Professor, Department of Politics, University of Glasgow: Political adaptivity.
1976 Professor J.R. BROWN, Professor of English, University of Sussex: Theatre for today.
1978 Dr Ivan ILLICH, Philosopher, educationalist and social critic: The art of suffering.
1979 Professor R.P. FEYNMAN, Nobel Laureate and Professor of Theoretical Physics, California Institute of Technology: The behaviour of light and electrons.
1980 Professor F.H. HINSLEY, Professor of history and International Relations, University of Cambridge: The rise and fall of the modern international system
1981 Richard LEAKEY, Director, National Museum of Kenya: Human origins.
1982 Professor Bernard LEWIS, Cleveland E. Dodge Professor of Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University: The historical roots of the Islamic revolution.
1983 Dr Carleton GAJDUSEK, National Institutes of Health, USA: Man in isolation.
1984 Professor Ngugi Wa THIONG’O, African novelist, playwright and social critic. Chairman, Department of Literature, University of Nairobi (in exile in Britain): The politics of language in African literature.
1985 Professor Sir Hermann BONDI, Master of Churchill College, University of Cambridge: The world of physics.
1986 Professor Stephen Jay GOULD, Professor of Geology, Harvard University: Charles Darwin and the science of history.
1987 Professor Laura NADER, Professor of Anthropology, University of California: Controlling processes.
1988 Professor E.P. THOMPSON, British social historian: Customs in common: Popular culture, some usages and customs of the people in England in the 18th and 19th centuries.
1989 Professor W.J.F. JENNER, Professor of Chinese, China Centre, The Australian National University: The tyranny of history: Four reflections on the power of China’s pasts.
1990 Professor Ian BROWNLIE, Chichele Professor of International Law, University of Oxford: Treaties and indigenous peoples.
1991 Professor Colin BLAKEMORE, Waynflete Professor of Physiology, University of Oxford: Images in the brain.
1992 Professor Marshall SAHLINS, Charles F. Grey Distinguished Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago: The anthropology of history in Polynesia.
1993 Professor Carole PATEMAN, Professor of Political Science, University of California, Los Angeles: Women and democracy.
1994 Professor Lewis WOLPERT, Professor of Biology as Applied to Medicine, University College, London: The unnatural nature of science.
1996 Dr Bernice Johnson REAGON, Distinguished Professor of History, American University, Washington: The place of song in African American history.
1997: Professor Immanuel WALLERSTEIN, State University of New York, Binghamton: Utopistics, or historical choices of the 21st century.
1998: Professor Paul KRUGMAN, Department of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology: What happened to Asia?
1999: Judy CHICAGO, artist, author, feminist, intellectual, New Mexico: Women and art.
2000: Professor Steven WEINBERG, Department of Physics, University of Texas at Austin: Physics, cosmology and God (lectures cancelled on account of family illness).
2001: Professor Steven PINKER, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Language, mind, and evolution.
2002: Professor David BARKER FRS, Director, Medical Research Council Environmental Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton School of Medicine: Mothers, babies and health in later life.
2003: Professor Bryan SYKES, Cellular Genetics Group, Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford: The interpretation of genes.
2004: Marina WARNER, historian, novelist, literary critic: Magic and transformation in contemporary literature and culture.
2005 Professor Carl WIEMAN, Nobel Laureate and Distinguished Professor of Physics at University of Colorado: Two breakthroughs in physics research: New forms of matter at ultracold temperatures, and engaged students with deep understanding.
2006 Professor Jared DIAMOND, author, physiologist, evolutionary biologist, biogeographer; Professor of Geography, University of California, Los Angeles: Science, history and human societies.
2007 Professor Yash GHAI, renowned scholar in constitutional law, Sir YK Pao Professor in Public Law at University of Hong Kong, 1989-2005: Organisation of the state in multi-ethnic societies.
2008 Professor Sheldon ROTHBLATT, Emeritus Professor of History, University of California, Berkeley: "The uses of the university" revisited.
2009 Dr Frans B.M. de WAAL, C. H. Candler Professor, Psychology Department, Emory University. Director, Living Links Center, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Atlanta, USA: Our inner ape.
2010 Lord STERN of Brentford, IG Patel Professor of Economics and Government and Chair of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics: Managing the risks of climate change, overcoming world poverty and creating a new era of growth and prosperity: The challenges for global collaboration and rationality.
2011 Tariq ALI, political commentator and writer, London: Empire and its futures.