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The Spread Mind: How to experience myself and the world as one

A recorded 3-part Webinar Series with Riccardo Manzotti

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The goal of this webinar is to apply the Spread Mind to our everyday life and to experience ourselves neither as immaterial selves nor as brain processes, but as a part of the world. Both science and philosophy have traditionally conceived of the self as though it were separate from the world. It’s time to make one step forward. The Spread Mind allows us to find our true nature in the very world that surrounds us. We are the starry sky, the clouds, a rainbow, trees, people, even simple objects such as an apple or a rock. We are not inside our body, we are out there, in the world! Perceiving is being.

We can achieve a new perspective about us and the world. We can experience our existence and the world as a unity. Thus, the participants will complete take-home activities by means of which memory, dreams, and thoughts will be removed from the alleged “inner mental world” and will be relocated in the world of objects. The Spread Mind aims to set individuals free from the prison of the brain/body, without committing to the notion of an immaterial soul.

Each session will provide both practical activities and theoretical notions. Thanks to the most recent evidence from neuroscience and physics, the Spread Mind is not only a practice but also a theoretical framework bridging the gap between science and philosophy. Yet it is not only a theory. Rather it is a state of mind in which we overcome the constraints that previous models of the mind have imposed on ourselves. The Spread Mind sets aside old ways to conceive of our consciousness.

No previous scientific and philosophical background is required to participate in the webinar.

Riccardo ManzottiRiccardo Manzotti (phD in Robotics) is professor of philosophy at IULM University (Milan). He holds degrees in both philosophy and computer science. He has been Fulbright Visiting Scholar at MIT (Department of Linguistic and Philosophy), professor of psychology (IULM University), visiting professor of artificial intelligence at the United Arab Emirates University (UAE), at KAIST (South Korea) and has been working at Northwestern University in Chicago and at Trinity College (Dublin). He is the author of more than 100 scientific papers and several volumes. Recently, he has just published two books on the topic of consciousness: The Spread Mind (ORBooks, 2017) and Consciousness and Object (John Benjamins, 2017). He has published a series of dialogues with the writer Tim Parks on The New York Review of Books. His main topic of research has been to the problem of consciousness in the physical world. What is our experience? What are we? How do we fit in nature?He has also worked on creativity, perception, altered states of consciousness, artificial intelligence, artificial vision, robotics, and machine consciousness.

 

tv_demand-iconAll the sessions will be recorded and available on demand so you may view at anytime. Check your email for details. Once you signup for the course on our website you will need to also register with zoom. Have any questions? Read our FAQ for webinar support.

Course Description:

Week 1 – The Spread Mind. Consciousness and the world are one

In contrast with a common misconception, neuroscience has never provided any evidence that consciousness is inside the brain. Consequently, it is important to consider a different view – the Spread Mind – according to which, conscious experience is literally one and the same as the world. If consciousness is the external world, what will change in our everyday experience? Can we experience the identity between us and the world? If we look inside ourselves, we get in the world. This view allows us to move from introspection to extraspection, finding ourselves outside our body.

Take-Home Activity: A series of practices to shift the center of our being from the body to the external world. A series of questions (radical introspectionism) will dissolve our prejudice about our ideas being inside our head. Radical introspection looks outward.

Duration: 90 mins


Week 2 – I am not my body. Yet the body is key. The relative nature of the world

Everything is relative but this does not mean that what is relative is not real. Reality is relative. In our case relative is relative to our body. While consciousness is neither inside our body nor inside our brain, the body has a fundamental role in shaping the world that is ourselves. In fact, the body is the gate that brings a world into existence. How does this world unfold in space and time? What is it made of? What are its physical limits? Of course, these questions will also allow us to understand the spatiotemporal extension of ourselves. Can we be older and bigger than our body? How can we connect our existence to the ultimate reality?

Take-Home activity. Recognize the relative nature of all physical phenomena. Finding the relation between the objects in our life and our body. Revealing the constitutive relationship between our body and the universe.

Duration: 90 mins


Week 3 – Beyond standard consciousness: dreams, hallucinations, and illusions

What about cases of nonstandard conscious experience? What are dreams and hallucinations made of? Are we more than we usually believe? Moving from well-known cases of illusions (the café wall-illusions, Kitaoka’s color illusions, afterimages) we will learn that perception is never mistaken. We may have mistaken beliefs about what we perceive, but we cannot perceive something that is not real. We will then extend this key insight to dreams and hallucination. Why do we dream and what do they mean? Are dreams real? We will reveal the (un)reality of the unreal.

At the end we will also question the authority of science in assessing the true nature of things and of ourselves. The Spread Mind challenges science by reinstating the subject in his place inside nature. Nature speaks through us with a direct and unmediated voice. Since we are nature, nature shows itself in our experience in an unmediated form.

Homework: Testing actual cases of illusions. Checking one’s consciousness in specific situations: before sleeping, after sleeping. Comparing mental images and current perception. Trying to create impossible mental imagery. Reading scientific articles about psychology and neuroscience with a different angle. Developing a critical attitude toward science’s pretense to show the real nature of things.

Duration: 90 mins


Further Reading

R.Manzotti, (2018) The Spread Mind, OR Books, New York.
R.Manzotti, T. Parks (2017-2018), https://www.nybooks.com/contributors/riccardo-manzotti/, The New Yorks Review of Books
T. Parks, (2018), Out of My Head: On the Trail of Consciousness, Harvill Secker, London.

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