Wednesday, July 20: The Quest for Human Uniqueness

Looking for that which makes us human has taken researchers through many aspects of our human and animal nature, leading us to ask questions about the role of physiology, brain science, genetics, language and symbolic thinking, relationships and cooperation, spirituality, empathy, aggression, and the capacity for anticipation/deferred gratification in making us human. One distinctive, separating human from animals, that is frequently mentioned is the capacity to generate and transmit culture – a broad and imprecise umbrella encompassing everything from anthropology, literature, history, sociology, philosophy to language, fine arts, religion…and more. Making sense of this broad and amorphous assembly of behaviors, some of which are common to humans and animals, and some of which are not, is a formidable challenge. In this talk we will attempt to simplify the topic by looking at the implication of theory of mind – and what some call the secondary theory of mind – in the formation, and transmission of culture.

About our presenter:

Bob Reinovsky, is an elder at White Rock Presbyterian Church, a practicing physical scientist and program manager at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He grew up in the Roman Catholic faith, and adopted the Calvinist view that characterizes modern Presbyterians when he was a young adult.   His interest in exploring the intersection of science and religious faith is rooted in his conviction that these two ways of understanding the world around us do not always lead us to the same place; but do complement each other and together make for a richer understanding of who we are and what we are called to be.

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