About the Seminar

People's ability to exercise choice, free will, and take responsibility for their acts and consequences is connected to their sense of wellbeing, self-perception, and existence. The life’s ability to extend and encompass, forgive and build together, imagine and be empathetic, self-correct and transcend – all these are possible because of a sense of life and living that constantly questions and presents meaning and purpose.

The dominant cognitive and evolutionary view is that these life expressions are behaviours that favour better survival for the species. What is the relation between being and wellbeing of the self? Are we just mechanistic entities controlled by genetically and environmentally determined factors? The ‘me’ sense is invariably accompanied by what is ‘other-than-me’ sense based on my preferences for inclusion and exclusion of people, objects and life around. Since it is not solely directed by the limits of the physical body but is very much influenced by the capability of individual consciousness to include and accept, different people have different degrees of this divide. Thus, subliminal capabilities such as altruism is also related to self-identity. Is altruism a fundamental aspect of life and living, and the universe? In almost all of wellbeing studies the two life traits that clearly emerge are ‘meaning’ and ‘purpose’.

The two forces that design and direct meaning and purpose and define humanity are the set of genes and the array of experiences that is unique and distinct for each individual. How do we understand the impact of the genes and experiences in framing our understanding of life, existence, and more importantly our ability to share, sacrifice and accommodate?

While a discussion on altruism in general is relevant to understand the role and nature of humanity, the related specific questions embedded in cultural diversity and philosophical foundations are equally important to explore social, psychological, and economic implications. Our relationships with life belonging to other species are also very important. Whether we are altruistic to them or choose to remain overtly exploitative and even tyrannical, could not only affect the well-being and survival of the 'others', but also that of the humans.

We could also extend our perceptions of the 'others' to include life, including intelligent life, anywhere in the cosmos, keeping in mind the fact that many philosophies of the world, including Indian philosophy, have felt the reverberations of life everywhere, and their interconnectedness.

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Seminar Speakers

This international meeting jointly organised by METI and NIAS will bring together biologists, mathematicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, economists, philosophers, physicians, and artists to dialogue on Altruism, Wellbeing and Purpose, presenting vantage views on Planetary life and its Meaning.

Keynote Seminar Lectures by the Invited Speakers:

John P John
Professor of Psychiatry &
Head, Department of Clinical Neurosciences PI:- Multimodal Brain Image Analysis Laboratory (MBIAL), National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore

G G Gangadharan
Professor and Director, Ramaiah Indic Specialty Ayurveda - Restoration Hospital, A unit of Gokula Education Foundation (Medical), Bangalore

Gautam Chatterjee
Theatre Director, &
President, Abhinavagupta Academy, Varanasi

Deepti Navaratna
Musician, Cognitive scientist &
Director, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts - IGNCA Regional Centre, Bangalore

L M Patnaik
Formerly, Professor & Head, Head, Dept of Computer sciences, NIAS Consciousness Studies Programme & Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore

Narendar Pani
Professor and Head, Conflict Research Programme, National Institute of Advanvced Studies, Bangalore

Nithin Nagaraj
Mathematician and Information Theorist, NIAS Consciousness Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanvced Studies, Bangalore

Binoy VV
Cognitive Scientist, NIAS Consciousness Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanvced Studies, Bangalore

Shankar Rajaraman
Sanskrit Poet, and Psychiatrist, NIAS Consciousness Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanvced Studies, Bangalore

Sangeetha Menon
Professor & Head, NIAS Consciousness Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanvced Studies, Bangalore

Abhik Gupta
Trustee, METI - Messaging Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, CA
Professor and Former Dean, Department of Ecology & Environmental Science, Assam (Central) University, Silchar

Doug Vakoch
President, METI - Messaging Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, CA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Organisers:
METI & NIAS

The Primary Objectives And Purposes Of METI International Are To: Conduct scientific research and educational programs in Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). Promote international cooperation and collaboration in METI, SETI, and astrobiology. Understand and communicate the societal implications and relevance of searching for life beyond Earth, even before detection of extraterrestrial life. Foster multidisciplinary research on the design and transmission of interstellar messages, building a global community of scholars from the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and arts. Research and communicate to the public the many factors that influence the origins, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe, with a special emphasis on the last three terms of the Drake Equation: (1) the fraction of life-bearing worlds on which intelligence evolves, (2) the fraction of intelligence-bearing worlds with civilizations having the capacity and motivation for interstellar communication, and (3) the longevity of such civilizations. Offer programs to the public and to the scholarly community that foster increased awareness of the challenges facing our civilization’s longevity, while encouraging individual and community activities that support the sustainability of human culture on multigenerational timescales, which is essential for long-term METI and SETI research.

National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) was conceived and founded in 1988 by the late Mr. J. R. D. Tata, who sought to create an institution to conduct advanced multidisciplinary research. Housed in a picturesque green campus in Bangalore the Institute serves as a forum to bring together individuals from diverse intellectual backgrounds. They include administrators and managers from industry and government, leaders in public affairs, eminent individuals in different walks of life, and the academicians in the natural and life sciences, humanities, and social sciences. The philosophy underlying NIAS is given shape by its research teams, which are drawn from a variety of disciplines in the natural and social sciences, humanities and arts. The Institute is unique in its integrated approach to the study of intersections between science and technology, philosophy, social issues and leadership. The objective is to nurture a broad base of scholars, managers and leaders who would respond to the complex challenges that face contemporary India and global society, with insight, sensitivity, confidence and dedication.



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NIAS Consciousness Studies Programme Team

NIAS-CSP Team and their research are inspired by the primary question - "what is consciousness".

Person 1

B V Sreekantan

Visiting Professor & Founder

Person 2

Sangeetha Menon

Professor & Head

Person 3

Anindya Sinha

Professor

Person 4

Binoy V V

Assistant Professor

Person 1

Nithin Nagaraj

Assistant Professor

Person 2

L M Patnaik

Adjunct Professor

Person 3

Sisir Roy

Visiting Professor

Person 4

Tilak Agerwala

Adjunct Professor

Person 1

Lakshmi K

Doctoral Scholar Alumni

Person 2

Namitha Kumar

Doctoral Scholar Alumni

Person 3

Shankar Rajaraman

Doctoral Scholar

Person 4

Siddharth S

Doctoral Scholar

Person 1

Aditi Kathpalia

Doctoral Scholar

Person 2

Georg Northoff

Advisor & Collaborator

Person 3

Owen Flanagan

Advisor & Collaborator

Person 4

Stephen Post

Advisor & Collaborator

Person 1

John P John

Adjunct Professor

Person 2

Naren Rao

Collaborator

Person 3

Deepti Navaratna

Collaborator

Person 4

Bindu Kutty

Adjunct Professor