neuro cells

University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo’s Eric Heuer, assistant professor of psychology, and Chris Lauer, assistant professor of philosophy, will hold the first of three joint lectures on neuroscience and philosophy on February 12, 6 p.m. at Campus Center Room 301. The free public lecture is part of the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo’s new series, Sharing Manaʻo Across the Disciplines. The series aims to bring together diverse approaches to today’s most pressing theoretical and practical problems for spirited discussions of the commonalities and differences between the various academic disciplines. The first lecture will be on consciousness.

“As this lecture series was conceived to present perspectives on the complexity of the human condition, we thought it only appropriate to start with the most obvious and perhaps also most complex problem, consciousness,” says Heur.

“While the topic of consciousness has likely been debated throughout the course of human history, there is no consensus as to a precise definition of this topic, much less how to engage in its systematic study. In this light, a multidisciplinary dissection of multiple aspects of consciousness is designed to provide an interesting and fruitful discussion in conceptualizing one of the most complex and yet fundamental aspects of the condition we call life.”

To investigate consciousness, Heur and Lauer will utilize “both the knowledge of neurological correlates of behavior, and diverse philosophical perspectives, on topics ranging from perception to metacognition.”

“The dichotomy in how philosophy and neuroscience approach the aforementioned topics is intended to engage the audience and hopefully challenge their notions of what these disciplines have to offer,” explains Heuer. “Ultimately, the goal of this and subsequent seminars is to promote cross-disciplinary discourse, collegiality and collaboration across traditionally disparate academic disciplines.”

About the professors

Eric Heuer and Chris Lauer

Assistant Professor Eric Heuer specializes in aging, Alzheimer’s disease and age-related alterations in cognitive function. He arrived at UH Hilo in the fall of 2011 and serves as chair of the neuroscience major committee. In addition to teaching and doing research at UH Hilo, he is adjunct research faculty at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University. He received his doctor of philosophy in neuroscience from Emory in 2010.

Assistant Professor Chris Lauer came to UH Hilo in 2011. His foremost research specializations are ethics of recognition and German idealism. He received his doctor of philosophy from Pennsylvania State University in 2007 and has taught a variety of philosophy courses at UH Hilo, including ethical theory, social ethics and philosophy of law. Before coming to UH Hilo, he taught at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Clarion University and Penn State University.

For more, visit the UH Hilo Stories website.

—By Susan Enright