The enigma of Consciousness is perhaps the most fascinating mystery in the Universe. There are many hypotheses, on the basis of which we try to give an answer to the most difficult problems but, wanting to schematize, all can be traced back to two broad categories: those who consider Consciousness entirely reducible to the electro-chemical-physical processes that take place in the brain, and those who acknowledge that Consciousness has an intrinsic existence, independent, at least in part, from its physical substratum.
Whereas the former fit well into the monistic vision of the so-called Scientific Materialism, the latter can lead either to a dualistic vision of Reality, in which the external world obeys the laws of Physics and the internal one requires a different level of analysis, or to a reconfiguration of the subject-object relation in a unitary picture of Reality. This unitary vision is compatible, for example, in Western culture with phenomenological approaches in philosophy and with Quantum Mechanics in physics, and in Eastern culture with Buddhist and Hindu traditions based on contemplative practices such as meditation and yoga.
The aim of the Consciousness and Cognition programme from University of Pisa is not to provide students with definitive answers, but to provide the necessary foundations and basic tools, in each of the covered disciplines, to follow the debate still open today in the various sectors that can be grouped under the name of Mind Science. In particular, the students should:
- (Philosophy): acquire a sensitiveness to the existence of a dimension of consciousness that overcomes the distinction between subject and object and understand its role in the current quest to explain consciousness, through a progression into insights drawn from Western philosophical approaches (especially phenomenology) and Eastern traditions and practices;
- (Quantum Mechanics) understand the basic principles of quantum mechanics to comprehend the subtler issues connected with the interpretation of the theory and their possible relevance for a discussion of consciousness, of the mind-body problem and of the nature of reality itself;
- (Artificial Intelligence): learn the basic concepts and models of nature-inspired computational techniques, and to know how to apply them to a wide range of application areas. Students will be exposed to the advantages and challenges of using computationally intelligent systems with human-like capabilities in terms of reasoning, learning and adaptation;
- (Biosemiotics): learn the basic of Biosemiotics and become acquainted with the semiotic nature of sign relationships both in biological and human-made systems, understand how cells act as semiotic units capable of interpreting their own environment through signs exchange, and eventually comprehend how sign perception and epigenetic regulation are causally linked through differential gene expression;
- (Contemplative Practices): comprehend the vision of Eastern tradition (Induism and Buddhism) concerning Consciousness and its different levels and manifestations; learn the foundations, the characteristics and the aspects of the different types of meditation;
- (Neurosciences and not Ordinary state of Consciousness): after a description of the neural networks, acting in the brain, and a survey on the main investigation techniques of the brain activity (Electroencephalography, FMRI), understand how self induced not ordinary states of consciousness by natural drugs, hypnosis, dream, deep meditation, affect this activity.
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Programme StructureThe path in search of the solution winds between these two alternatives and passes through the answer to two fundamental questions:
- Is Scientic Materialism capable of embracing the totality of Reality?
- Is a unitary vision of Reality possible in which Consciousness is not completely reducible to its neuronal correlates?
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- 9 days
Start dates & application deadlines
- Apply before
DisciplinesNeuroscience Cognitive Sciences Artificial Intelligence
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We are not aware of any academic requirements for this programme.
We are not aware of any English requirements for this programme.
- Graduation in any discipline
- Identity Document (*PASSPORT in case you are a foreign student*)
- Enrolment Form
- Curriculum Vitae
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International250 EUR/fullTuition FeeBased on the tuition of 250 EUR for the full programme during 9 days.
EU/EEA250 EUR/fullTuition FeeBased on the tuition of 250 EUR for the full programme during 9 days.
Living costs for Pisa
The living costs include the total expenses per month, covering accommodation, public transportation, utilities (electricity, internet), books and groceries.
Studyportals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.
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Apply and win up to €10000 to cover your tuition fees.