Cultivating the Mind: Reason and the Pursuit of Ethical Transformation

Panel Discussion February 15, 2023

Rationality, long considered a distinctive characteristic of the human mind, provides us with the capacity for understanding and discernment, as well as the ability to introduce order into our thoughts by allowing us to form higher-order volitions, adopt values, establish priorities, and achieve a level of consistency in our actions across time. The ancient Socratic ideal of the “examined life” in pursuit of truth and justice relied on a definition of human nature that was to be cultivated in a systematic way. If the key to fully realizing our humanity lies in the cultivation of our minds, what ethical principles and practices in modern life can help our minds to flourish? How can reason be blended with emotion to nurture a more ethical life? In this regard, experimental psychology and neuroscientific research may have much to teach us, as might the age-old wisdom traditions.

Psychologist and neurobiologist Richard Davidson, classics scholar Edith Hall, and psychologist Dacher Keltner analyze how reason and the mind can facilitate ethical development.


  • Steve Paulson Journalist and Executive Producer, TTBOOK
  • Richard Davidson Professor of Psychology & Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Edith Hall Classics Scholar, Durham University
  • Dacher Keltner Professor of Psychology, UC Berkeley


  • Wednesday, February 15, 2023
  • 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
  • The New York Academy of Medicine
    1216 5th Ave, New York, NY 10029

About This Series

This event is part of the three-part series The Enduring Enigma of the Mind, which brings together leading scientists and thinkers from an array of disciplines to help ponder and unravel the complexities of the human mind, from its origins and functions to its cultivation and development, with a view toward ultimately acquiring greater insight into ourselves and the nature of our existence.



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