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Dark Matter of the Mind (IAI Academy)

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Does the mind arise from the brain? Is the self a fantasy? American anthroplogist and linguist Daniel Everett interrogates our assumptions and questions if the self is made from more than just matter.

Most linguists and anthropologists look to other cultures to try and discover something fundamentally ‘human’, and many think there is something fundamental in our genes, our language, or our myths that we all share.

In this course, revolutionary linguist Daniel Everett shares his lifetime’s experience with the remote Pirahã people of the Amazon, and makes the case that there is nothing essential to ‘human nature’- but rather that our genetics express themselves differently through different cultures.

In this course you will learn:

- Why the ‘dark matter of the mind’ shapes our ideas and attitudes.

- How epigenetics undermines the idea of genetic determinism.

- The flaws in the thinking behind universal archetypes, language and myths.

- Why neural flexibility is the key for our species’ success.

- The evolutionary importance of our relationships with animals

- How language functions as a cultural tool.

- What it means to have a sense of self.

- How we should imagine the mind as part of the body.


Course Syllabus

- Part One: Mind and Matter

What makes our minds unique? How do structures of knowledge and culture build on the brain?

- Part Two: The Self and Non-Self

Why do we experience a sense of self? Everett considers memory, culture, language and the body.