ALOUD Science Series: On Seeing and Being - Seeing the Divine | Los Angeles Public Library
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ALOUD Science Series: On Seeing and Being - Seeing the Divine

Moderated by Margaret Wertheim, the Institute for Figuring
Monday, November 10, 2008
Episode Summary

How, in this age of scientific rationalism, can we begin to understand religious visions and mystical experiences--now being reported by a growing number of people on the nightly news, across the internet, and by word-of-mouth? Dr. Lisa Bitel and Dr. Michael A. Arbib discuss visions from the Middle Ages to today, especially the tensions between cultural, spiritual, and neurological explanations for extraordinary sights, and consider new ways to understand these mysterious phenomena.

Made possible by a generous contribution from K&L Gates

Participant(s) Bio
Dr. Lisa Bitel is a professor of history at the University of Southern California who studies the social, cultural and religious history of medieval Europe. She is the author of Isle of Saints: Monastic Settlements and Christian Community in Early Ireland and Land of Women: Tales of Sex and Gender from Early Ireland. She has written widely about sex, gender, dreams and dreamers in the Middle Ages and has recently finished a book on the cults of Saint Genovefa in Paris and Saint Brigit of Ireland. She is currently researching the history of Christian religious visions.

Dr. Michael A. Arbib is the Fletcher Jones Professor of Computer Science, as well as a Professor of Biological Sciences, Biomedical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of Southern California (USC). He has also been named as one of a small group of University Professors at USC in recognition of his contributions across many disciplines. He is the author or editor of 38 books. His edited volume, The Handbook of Brain Theory and Neural Networks is a massive compendium embracing studies in detailed neuronal function, system models of brain regions, connectionist models of psychology and linguistics, mathematical and biological studies of learning, and technological applications of artificial neural networks. His two most recent books are Who Needs Emotions: The Brain Meets the Robot(edited with Jean-Marc Fellous) and Action To Language via the Mirror Neuron System.