by Jim Patterson
The nature of consciousness in humans and animals and its effect on how we view religion, science and philosophy will be
tackled during three lectures at Vanderbilt by prominent researcher Christof Koch.
Koch, the Lois and Victor Troendle Professor of Cognitive and Behavioral Biology at the California Institute of Technology, is the 2007 Templeton Research Fellow at Vanderbilt. The author of The Quest for Consciousness: A Neurobiological Approach pioneered the study of the brain basis of consciousness with his longtime collaborator, the late Francis Crick, who won the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1962 for his discovery (with Jim Watson) of the double-helical shape of DNA.
Koch will deliver three Templeton Lectures – on March 19 and 20, and on May 4.
“I am engaged on a quest to understand how consciousness is linked to the brain,” Koch said. “How the flickering activity of myriad nerve cells leads to ineffable experiences of seeing blue, of being warmed by the sun, or of being scared by exposure on a climb.”
Koch’s visit is financed by the Templeton Research Lecture Grant, which is bringing at least $270,000 to Vanderbilt over three years to fund a research group, speakers, publications and a major conference. The grant was awarded by The Metanexus Institute, which advances research, education and outreach on the constructive engagement of science and religion. It runs some 300 projects in 30 nations, including the Templeton Research Lectures, funded by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.
All of the lectures are hosted by the Religion and Science Interdisciplinary Research Project of Vanderbilt’s Center for the Study of Religion and Culture.
Audio of the lectures will be available at www.vanderbilt.edu/news.
Templeton lectures schedule:
6 p.m., March 19
“The Problem of Consciousness in Philosophy, Religion and Science.” A reception will precede the lecture at 5 p.m.
6 p.m., March 20
“What Do We Know about Consciousness and the Brain?” A reception will precede the lecture at 5 p.m.
3 p.m., May 4
“Consciousness, Free Will and God.” A reception will follow the lecture at 4:30 p.m.
All lectures will be held in Flynn Auditorium at Vanderbilt Law School and are free and open to the public.