LECTURE by Prof. Dr. Albert Newen: Who am I? Transformations of the self and memories of selfless experiences

Thursday, 25 April 2024, 7 PM

with curator Rebekka Seubert 

19:30-21 UHR LECTURE
Prof Dr Albert Newen (Professor of Philosophy of Mind, Ruhr University Bochum): Who am I? Transformations of the self and memories of selfless experiences: Philosophical reflections

Changing yourself, losing yourself and finding yourself again: what can that mean and aren't these contradictory thoughts? How can I be myself, change and at the same time remain the same me? How can we understand and categorise this everyday experience? Our memories are an essential building block of our continuity. But what happens to the self when our memory of past events disappears, as is regularly the case with dementia? Even without illness, it is possible to push our ego-determined experiences into the background, e.g. through meditation, which often requires years of training. However, many people then report deep meditation experiences in which all ego aspects disappear. But how is it possible for us to remember such an ego-free experience and assign it to ourselves? You are cordially invited to think through these questions philosophically with the speaker and to contribute your experiences to the discussion.

Prof. Dr. Albert Newen (*1964) has been a professor of philosophy with a focus on philosophy of mind at the Ruhr University Bochum since 2007. His research focuses on neurophilosophy, research into memory and human and animal consciousness and self-consciousness. Habilitation at the University of Bonn with Theories of Self-Consciousness (2001). Further selected publications: A. Newen, L. de Bruin, S. Gallagher (eds.): The Oxford Handbook of 4E Cognition: embodied, enacted, extended and embedded, Oxford University Press (2018); A. Newen: Philosophy of Mind - An Introduction, Munich: C.H.Beck (2013); A. Newen: Analytische Philosophie zur Einführung, Hamburg: Junius Verlag (2005); A. Newen, K. Vogeley (eds.): Self and Brain. Menschliches Selbstbewußtsein und seine neurobiologischen Grundlagen, Paderborn: mentis Verlag (2000). 

About the exhibition

Considering the self as a continuous experience and distinct entity is an achievement of the human brain and at the same time serves culturally as an important basis for the individualism that dominates Western societies. This assumption is challenged by the influence of social developments and technical means such as social media, artificial intelligence and neuroscience. Questioning it through the means of “unselfing”, as suggested by the Irish philosopher Iris Murdoch (1919–1999) in the early 1970ies, can provide a guideline for contemporary challenges and enable a position of both artistic and personal resistance.

With newly developed performances, installations and interactive formats as well as videos and paintings, the exhibition explores the experience of self-dissolution: Possibilities of fluid identities, the death of one part of the self and the transformation of another, as well as feelings of empathy and oneness with the surrounding world—with humans or other species and nature. From mingled authorship and absorption in the collective, to physically and psychologically dissociating experiences through meditation, trance, pain or chemical substances, the exhibition seeks to outline a path and state of self-laterality, empathy and happiness.

with works by: assume vivid astro focus (avaf), Yael Bartana, Cevdet Erek, Ja Jess, Jessy Razafimandimby, David Reiber Otálora, Lillian Schwartz, Yuri Yefanov

Curated by Rebekka Seubert


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