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Eric Kandel + George Prochnik

The Age of Insight

Monday, April 16, 2012
8:00 PM–10:30 PM

In The Age of Insight Eric Kandel skillfully reinvigorates the conversation between art and science that began in Vienna 1900. The central challenge of science in the twenty-first century is to understand the human mind in biological terms — to discover how the nerve cells in our brain give rise to perception, memory, emotion, empathy, and creativity. This new science is important not only because it provides a deeper understanding of what makes us who we are, but also because it lays the groundwork for a meaningful dialogue between neuroscience, the arts, and the humanities. Such a dialogue would integrate scientific ideas into contemporary intellectual discourse and thus serve to enrich our culture. The Age of Insight takes up this central scientific challenge by exploring what we have learned about the relation between science and our response to art from Vienna 1900 to the present.
George Prochnik, whose father escaped from Vienna in 1938, the same year as Eric Kandel, is the author Putnam Camp: James Jackson Putnam, Sigmund Freud & the Purpose of American Psychology. This study of Freud’s 1909 visit to the New World and the philosophical debate that ensued among America’s medical elite was a recipient of the Gradiva Award and a New York Times Editors’ Choice. His essays on Stefan Zweig, Joseph Roth and other members of the “coffeehouse canon” have appeared in the Daily Beast and the Quarterly Conversation. After the publication In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise (Doubleday, 2010), he started work on an intimate portrait of Jerusalem that delves into the city’s natural and supernatural histories. Prochnik has also conducted interviews of well-known psychoanalysts, historians and writers for the NYPL LIve series, including Adam Phillips and Simon Sebag Montefiore.
Presented in partnership with The Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives