New centre compares humans to bees

AS part of National Science Week (August 12-20), the Australian National University is set to open a new Centre for the Philosophy of Sciences on to help people make sense of the world and to explore questions such as “are bees like us?”.

Centre director Dr Rachael Brown says consciousness was one of the most fundamental mysteries that humans faced.

“Associate Prof Colin Klein, who will be joining the Centre at ANU next year, has done research finding that bees are probably like us – they have some degree of consciousness. Now we need to explore what that means for society,” Dr Brown says.

“People and philosophers think that what makes you an object of moral concern is that you are conscious and you can feel things, especially if you can feel any pain or suffering.”

The Centre will explore concepts such as consciousness, cognition and intelligence, and will aim to bring philosophers of the sciences together with scientists to develop interdisciplinary research and education projects.

ANU Vice-Chancellor Prof Brian Schmidt will officially launch the new Centre on Wednesday, August 12.

 

Prof Peter Godfrey-Smith, author of “Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness”, will deliver a lecture at the launch about the nature and origins of the mind.

National Science Week is Australia’s annual celebration of science, with about 1000 events already registered throughout Australia, including over 70 events in the ACT. Visit scienceweek.net.au for more details.

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