appuntamenti · Gennaio 22, 2024

The Elephant in the Room

convegno internazionale 21-23 febbraio 2024

The conference is the fruit of a joint effort between the University of Padova, the University of
Ottawa, the India Foundation, the Research Center of the Italian Buddhist Union and the Mind and
Life Europe. It is organized within the framework of the Postgraduate Program in Contemplative
Studies delivered by the University of Padova and is also intended to be a natural extension of the
discussions that began at the Exploring Consciousness: Non-Duality to Non-Locality conference held in
September 2022 in Bangalore, India.

The conference is scheduled for February 21-23, 2024, at the University of Padova, Italy. It will
feature sixteen speakers from various fields and will span over three days: two days dedicated to
keynote speakers and one day reserved for debates, panel discussions, and research proposals, with a
focus on fostering interdisciplinary collaboration.

The event is aimed at scholars in the field of consciousness studies, as well as research institutions,
philanthropic organizations, and anyone passionate about the subject. It aims to gather the most
promising perspectives on investigating the nature of consciousness from a non-reductionist point of
view, bridging science, philosophy, and contemplative inquiry to contribute to interdisciplinary
research in this field.

Consciousness is a fundamental but elusive phenomenon that has long puzzled scholars across a range
of disciplines. Despite significant developments in various related fields, a complete understanding of
this subject is still lacking and the nature of consciousness represents a major blind spot in the
landscape of our contemporary knowledge; it is “The Elephant in the Room” of our Enlightenment

Rapid advancements in various scientific and technological fields, including artificial intelligence and
biotechnology, are raising crucial philosophical questions about the conditions for consciousness to
emerge in organisms and whether it could manifest through an artificial medium—questions that
cannot be adequately addressed without a sound theoretical framework. The ethical implications raised
by these questions will not be addressed directly in the conference but rather serve to frame the
inquiry into consciousness during the challenging times we are moving into, highlighting its urgency.

The primary objective of the conference is to convene leading experts in consciousness research from
diverse fields of knowledge, including physics, neuroscience, philosophy of mind, and contemplative
research, under the idea that the nature of consciousness is a fundamental question that cannot be
dismissed as a matter of personal beliefs. Rather, it demands a rigorous and collaborative scientific and
philosophical inquiry whose aim is to shed increasing light on this mystery over time.

Building on these premises, each talk delivered at the conference is expected to answer the central
question “what is consciousness?” by presenting evidence and arguments that support a specific
perspective and outline the necessary steps to advance further research. Moreover, the conference will
provide a conducive environment for interdisciplinary discussions, as participants are encouraged to
share hypotheses and research proposals.