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Seminar - Mind-States: their Function, Dysfunction, and Cultivation

On 8 November, Henk Barendregt, Distinghuished Lorentz Fellow 2012/13 at NIAS, will hold a seminar on mind-states, and how we can cultivate them in a fruitful way. 

About the Seminar

Consciousness consists of two distinct aspects: its content (also called object of consciousness) and its state (also called mind-state). The object consists of what we see, hear, feel (by touch), taste, smell, or cognize. Indeed there are the five physical senses and then there is the mental sense of remembrance or imagination. Next to these forms of input there is a ‘colouring’. This consists of our present mind-state, that instantaneously gives a ground tone to our input and that determines our future actions.

Some mind-states are wholesome, some are unwholesome (and some are neutral). A precise definition will be given. For a person mind-states can make the difference between being flexible and creative on the one hand, and being rigid and destructive on the other.

There is a way to cultivate mind-states: increase the frequency of wholesome ones and decrease that of the unwholesome ones. Important is the fundamental role of mind-states: glueing together parts of consciousness into a usually reified concept that we conceive as our self, an agency that is always there and directs our behaviour.  The reification makes us defend our ways, giving rise to mental clinging or even craving, and hence suffering.

Changing view one also may see agency as a more flexible process, with nothing to defend, allowing more wholesome mind-states, only to be employed in a fruitful way. Because of our being accustomed, nay often addicted, to the rigid glueing, it requires some work to cultivate mind-states. But the effort is worthwhile. For oneself, others and the world.

The seminar is followed by an open discussion.


About the Speaker

Henk Barendregt is Professor of Foundations of Mathematics and Computer Science (Radboud University Nijmegen) and is currently working on mindstates at NIAS as the Distinguished Lorentz Fellow 2012/13.

About NIAS Seminars

NIAS Seminars are organised by the Rector of the Institute. They are meant to appeal to interested parties from a wide range of backgrounds and are aimed to encourage closer contact within the Dutch academic world.

NIAS Seminars take place in the Lecture Room (NIAS, Meijboomlaan 1, Wassenaar, telephone 070-512 27 00). This Seminar starts at 11.00 hours and ends at 12.30. Everyone is welcome to attend the seminar and join the discussion. However, since changes in the programme may occur, please let us know if you wish to attend. For further information, contact Communication