The Nour Foundation
The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies Center for Neurotechnology &
The Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study of George Mason University

Shifting Realities: Myths, Models & Morality

How do we understand and define the nature of reality? Can one speak of truly objective realities, or are realities necessarily subjective and contingent upon the observer's perspective? Are realities static and immutable, or are they fluid and dynamic in nature? What forms of reasoning and criteria do we use to ascertain and establish the intrinsic reality of a phenomenon? How do we study those events and environments that are so small or large so as to be beyond the range of our physical senses?

Whether we are seeking to explore the realities of the universe or those of the mind and the nature of being, the processes of deductive or inductive reasoning and the conception and use of scientific paradigms and personal constructs are fundamental tools in the comprehension of any natural phenomenon. What guidelines and principles do we invoke in the construction of such personal and professional myths and models? What forms have these myths and models historically taken, and what value or utility have they served?

Almost every field of human endeavor has been affected by the applications of objective and rigorous standards and principles of science, or, more precisely, the scientific method. In particular, this approach has enabled the study of invisible phenomena in the realms of physics, astronomy, and consciousness that remain obscure to the physical senses but are nonetheless considered as realities in our universe, if not the tangible dimensions of our daily life.

Is it possible to apply this same rational, scientific methodology to the study, development and articulation of personal character and the self? Can we approach the study and practice of morality and ethics in an objective, experimental, and systematic fashion using the same faculties and processes invoked in the discovery and study of natural phenomena? Can the objective methods of science be employed to study the subjective experience of morality so as to yield personally and socially meaningful practices of ethical sensibility and conduct?

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2010 Symposia Series

Shifting Realities: Myths, Models & Morality
The Contingent Nature of Reality
May 12, 2010
The New York Academy of Sciences
Life, Death & the Pursuit of Morality
June 22, 2010
The New York Academy of Sciences