Yale psychologist to lecture about body-mind duality

Paul Bloom, a professor of psychology at Yale, visits Bates College to offer a lecture exploring how humans think of bodies and souls at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 6, in the Keck Classroom (G52), Pettengill Hall, 4 Andrews Road.

Titled “Bodies and Souls,” Bloom’s talk is part of a series hosted by the departments of philosophy and psychology, with funding from the Mellon Innovation Fund at Bates. The event is free and open to the public.

Bloom will discuss the notion that humans are innate dualists in their sense, which emerges in childhood, of a fundamental distinction between physical entities, such as bodies, and psychological entities, such as souls. He will connect this perception to such aspects of human nature as the attraction to certain religious beliefs and the relationship between disgust and morality.

Bloom also studies differences in the ways that human minds understand physical objects and social worlds, exploring how such mental processes can contribute to belief in religion. He has written for scientific journals such as Nature and Science, as well as such mainstream publications as The New York Times, Britain’s Guardian and The Atlantic Monthly.

He is past president of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology and co-editor of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, a major journal in that field. Since receiving his doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1990, Bloom has authored or edited four books, including Descartes’ Baby: How the Science of Child Development Explains What Makes Us Human (Basic Books, 2004) and How Children Learn the Meanings of Words (MIT Press, 2000). His current project is titled Everything You Believe About Pleasure Is Wrong.

The Mellon Innovation Fund at Bates, supported by a $450,000 award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, supports projects undertaken by faculty to initiate fresh approaches, new directions and novel undertakings in their research and scholarship and in the academic program. The fund encourages pursuit of faculty work in ways intended to make a lasting impact on the college.

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