Modelling Consciousness

A workshop on formal approaches to the mind-body problem

This workshop brings together researchers from all disciplines who have a deep interest in questions related to the scientific study of consciousness as well as a background in mathematics or physics in order to discuss and develop formal models of the mind-matter relation.

In contrast to typical conferences, the workshop centers on discussions in small groups to bridge the gap between critical thinking and creative brainstorming. Each discussion session is dedicated to a specific topic centered around:

Discussing existing models of consciousness, evaluating merits as well as drawbacks on a philosophical and on a technical level

Working out possible applications or variations of these models, both concerning theoretical and experimental notions

Offering creative space so as to invite ideas and intuitions which are directed at developing new models of consciousness

Exploring new ways of thinking about the mind-matter relation more generally

To lay the ground for these sessions, there will be talks given by the participants.

Date: Saturday, March 23 - Saturday, March 30, 2019
Place: Mountain Cabin, Dorfgastein, Austria
Participants: 18
Workshop fee: 350 Euros (includes accommodation, shuttle to the cabin, all meals, and nonalcoholic beverages; financial support for both workshop fee and travel expenses is available**)

The deadline for applications is Sunday, January 13, 2019 AoE.

Location

The workshop will take place in a beautiful, cosy mountain cabin which offers all necessary luxuries (a bath, showers, a sauna - and even a toilet). However, we want to point out that a mountain cabin is not a hotel: Accommodation will be in dorms with bunk beds, there are no single rooms and bathrooms have to be shared. Also, internet may not be available and possibilities for privacy are very limited. No catering is provided - all participants will be involved in preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Further Details

In contrast to usual conferences and workshops, this workshop focuses on discussion sessions in small groups. These sessions are dedicated to specific topics or questions which belong to one of the four guiding questions described above. To lay the ground for these sessions, there will be kick-off talks given by the participants (45 minutes). Their goal is twofold: First, they should serve as introductions, drawing out the question or topic and clarifying any necessary background knowledge; second, they should present one existing approach or the speaker's own thoughts on the topic.

Discussion sessions will be held in parallel. During the six full days of the workshop, 45-50 discussion sessions will be held on topics in the context of formal approaches to the mind-body problem. These topics are fixed as the workshop proceeds based on the applications and on questions or ideas which are raised during the workshop. They resemble those aspects of the mind-matter relation which the participants hold to be most important to discuss.

The workshop is aimed at researchers of any age who are interested in the problems discussed in contemporary consciousness studies. Since 'models of consciousness' refer to a theoretical description, a background in mathematics, physics or other formal disciplines of sciences is appreciated.

Participants are not required to be active researchers in the field. We look forward to applications from people who are passionate about this problem, who appreciate formal approaches to the mind-matter relation, who are open to new ideas and, most importantly, eager to engage in deep discussions. This workshop is designed such as to offer an open-minded, non-dogmatic and respectful atmosphere.

Application

Please apply via email to application@modelling-consciousness.org. (Deadline is January 13, 2019 AoE.)
Your application should contain the following:

  1. A brief statement of motivation for attending the workshop (a few paragraphs).
  2. A proposal of at least one, maximum two questions or topics for discussion sessions. Please explain:
    • Why you consider these worth discussing.
    • How they fit the idea of the workshop as explained above.
    A selection of topics will be made according to the interest and expertise of the participants.
    Note that the proposal need not originate from your own work.
  3. For most discussion sessions, we will have kick-off talks given by the participants (45 minutes). Their goal should be twofold: First, they should serve as introductions, drawing out the question or topic and clarifying any necessary background knowledge; second, they should present one existing approach or the speaker's own Denkansatz (thoughts). Please specify:
    • For which of your discussion proposals you would be willing to give a talk.
    • An abstract of the introductory part of your talk.
    • An abstract or description of the part of your talk which focuses on your own thoughts or on the existing approach. (In case you choose to present an existing approach, please specify one specific work whose main idea you find particularly relevant/enlightening w.r.t. the proposed topic and upon which you would like to base the second part of your talk.)
  4. Furthermore, please include the following information about yourself:
    • Your current occupation and institution.
    • Your main area of work and further areas of interest.
    • Information about dietary requirements, allergies, etc.
    • Whether you would like to apply for funding (please roughly specify the required amount for traveling).**
    • Please confirm that you are okay with the sleeping conditions on a mountain cabin as described above (bunk beds, no personal rooms).
** Funding is available provided that your institution or any other third party cannot reimburse you for the workshop fee and/or travelling expenses. Since we need to plan how we can distribute our available, but limited, funding, it can only be provided if you apply for it at the time of your application.

In case of any questions, do not hesitate to contact us at application@modelling-consciousness.org.

Statement of Inclusiveness

We affirm that scientific events have to be open to everybody, regardless of race, sex, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, age, pregnancy, immigration status, academic affiliation, social class, financial situation or any other aspect of identity. We believe that such events have to be supportive, inclusive, and safe environments for all participants. We believe that all participants are to be treated with dignity and respect. Discrimination and harassment cannot be tolerated. We are committed to ensuring that the scientific events in which we participate follow these principles. (This statement is part of a larger initiative among the scientific community which we invite you to discover here.)

We gratefully acknowledge support from:

Organizers:

Ian Durham (Saint Anselm College)
Johannes Kleiner (Leibniz University of Hanover)
Robert Prentner (UC Irvine)
Giovanni Rabuffo (DESY and University of Hamburg)