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KFA Explorations Conference 2017

KFA Explorations Conference 2017

An enquiry into the nature of the “self” and its implications for how we understand ourselves and our relationships to others and the world

Friday, April 28 - Sunday, April 30, 2017

Reflections on the Self

What is the sense of “self, “ what are its various implications in our lives, and is “freedom from the self” a possibility?

The experience of oneself as being conscious in a first person perspective is ubiquitous. This sense of “self” plays a key role in how we experience and live our lives.

The goal of this conference is to critically inspect the various facets of this sense of self, its origins, and its operation, in order to unearth a more coherent view of ourselves, our relationships with others and with the world around us. We also will examine what the notion of “freedom from the self” might or might not mean, and its various implications.

The conference will bring together individuals across different disciplines who share an interest in studying these questions. The event will feature a series of formal presentations and discussion sessions, with ample opportunities for additional informal exchanges.



Pathik PadhwaThomas Metzinger - Keynote Speaker
Director of the Theoretical Philosophy at Johannes Gutenberg-University, Mainz 

The Ego Tunnel Thomas Metzinger is one of the foremost thinkers and researchers in the philosophy of mind. Metzinger presents a rigorous philosophical argument against the conception of the self as an entity. Rather than being a metaphysical essence that exists outside the body, he says, the self is an experience: the result of processes occurring within the body and brain. The vivid, conscious experience of being a self, which all of us know, Metzinger says, is a kind of useful hallucination. He explains, “The body and the mind are constantly changing. Nothing in us is ever really the same from one moment to the next. Yet the self represents a very strong phenomenal experience of sameness, and it’s clear this would be adaptive or helpful for a biological organism that needs to plan for the future. If you want to hide some food for winter or you want to save some money in your bank accounts or work on your reputation, you’re planning for future success, and you wouldn’t do that if you didn’t have the very strong feeling that it’s going to be the same entity that gets the reward in the future.”

Peter KajtarPeter Kajtar
Author & Educator 

Anil Ananthaswamy Originally from Hungary, Peter Kajtar moved to the United Kingdom at the age of 18, where he studied and worked in adult and special education for the next fourteen years, successfully completing his post-graduate studies in Education in 2004. In his mid-twenties, Peter spent a great deal of time engaging with various philosophical and psychological approaches and traditions, some more esoteric than others. This challenging yet transformative period was brought to an end—or more accurately to its rational conclusion—by a chance discovery of ‘The Network of Thought’ by J. Krishnamurti in a small library in the Cotswolds. Alongside his deep interest in Krishnamurti’s work, Peter is recognised as an expert on the ideas of the late Emeritus Prof. David Bohm, FRS. Peter is especially interested in and has been developing over a decade the idea that thought and knowledge are emergent, holarchically ordered dynamic processes of a mind-body continuum that is concretely related to the deepest orders of a participatory universe. Peter introduces his forthcoming book, The Order of Thought essentially as an exercise in cartography: the general aim of the book is to produce a map of thought that is hopefully significantly more coherent than the various explicit and implicit maps already in circulation in our global culture. This new map requires examination of some existing, central, universally shared, yet illusory assumptions about the nature of consciousness, of thought and indeed the nature and actual capabilities of the “self”. The book also suggests that the single most important development of the 21st century may well be the emergence of a new model of individuality, based on a new understanding of the actual nature and consequent limitations of the activity of thought.

Pathik PadhwaAnil Ananthaswamy
Consultant New Scientist Magazine  

Anil AnanthaswamyScience journalist Anil Ananthaswamy thinks a lot about "self" — not necessarily himself, but the role the brain and body play in our notions of self and existence. In his new book, The Man Who Wasn't There, Ananthaswamy examines the ways people experience of themselves and how those perceptions can be distorted by brain conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease, Cotard's syndrome and body integrity identity disorder, or BIID, a psychological condition in which a patient perceives that a body part is not his own.

Ultimately, Ananthaswamy says, our sense of self is a layered one, an outcome of various parts of the brain working together to create a sense of narrative self, bodily self and spiritual self: "What it comes down to is this sense we have of being someone or something to which things are happening. It's there when we wake up in the morning, it kind of disappears when we go to sleep, it reappears in our dreams, and it's also this sense we have of being an entity that spans time."

Anil Ananthaswamy is a journalist and author, specializing in writing about neuroscience, physics and climate change. He has been a guest editor at the University of California Santa Cruz’s science writing program and organizes and teaches an annual science journalism workshop at the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore, India. His last book, The Man Who Wasn’t There: Tales from the Edge of the Self, explores the human sense of self by examining how it gets disrupted in neuropsychological conditions such as Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia. The book was nominated for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award.

Pathik PadhwaPathik Wadhwa
Developmental Origins of Health  

Pathik Wadhwa is a Professor of Psychiatry, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Pediatrics, and Epidemiology at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine, where he directs the UC Irvine Development, Health and Disease Research Program. He received his medical degree from the University of Pune in India, and his doctorate from the University of California, Irvine.

Pathik’s research program is highly trans-disciplinary in nature. It traces the journey in humans from potential (genotype; determined at the time of conception) to specificity (phenotype; the particulars of form and function) across the multi- contoured landscape of in utero and early postnatal development. This journey examines the recursive interplay between maternal, placental and fetal biological, social, and behavioral processes at this very early stage of life, and its far-reaching implications for all subsequent physical and mental health-related outcomes over the individual’s entire life course and also across generations. This program has been supported continuously since its inception by major research grants from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and other national and international agencies. Pathik has a long-standing interest in formulating and examining questions.

Jaap SluijteJaap Sluijterr has a long-standing interest in the questions raised by J. Krishnamurti. Currently, Jaap is the Executive Director of the Krishnamurti Foundation of America. Previously, he lived and taught for several years at the Brockwood Park School in England.

“The study of Krishnamurti’s work is the study of our own life, to observe our own minds in action and to become aware of the multitude of stimulus-response patterns in the network of our thoughts. His questions draw attention to the very perspective from which we view our lives. We are so used to having problems and to solving problems. Then Krishnamurti comes along and asks, 'Is it possible to not make a problem out of anything?' A question like this brings in a totally new perspective, and has the possibility of turning the mind towards its own movement, creating the potential for a new direction.”

Hillary RodriguesHillary Rodrigues

Hillary Rodrigues (University of Lethbridge) is a professor of Eastern Religious traditions, particularly Hindu and Buddhist philosophies and cultures (click here). A former teacher and administrator at the Krishnamurti school that once existed at the site of the Swanwick Centre, he has published several scholarly studies on aspects of Krishnamurti’s thought. Hillary has given presentations on Krishnamurti’s teachings in New York, New Delhi, Victoria, and Ojai, California. His books include Krishnamurti’s Insight, Introducing Hinduism and World Religions: A Guide to the Essentials (co-author). Watch professos Hillary Rodrigues' talk: Is Freedom from Conditioning Really Possible?


Program Schedule

    Fri. April 28 Sat. April 29 Sun. April 30
Session 1 9:30 - 10:30 AM Introduction and Questions
Jaap Sluijter

The Self Illusion:
Perspectives from Contemporary Philosophy
and Neuroscience
Thomas Metzinger

Panel Discussion with Anil Ananthaswamy, Peter Kajtar and Pathik Wadhwa
  10:30 - 11:00 AM Break Break Break
Session 2 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM On the Nature of the Self: Perspectives from J. Krishnamurti
Hillary Rodriguez
On the Nature of the Self:
Perspectives from David Bohm
Peter Kajtar
Panel Discussion with
Anil Ananthaswamy,
Peter Kajtar and Pathik
  12:00 PM- 1:00 PM Exploration Exploration Exploration
Lunch 1:00 - 2:30 PM Lunch Lunch Lunch
Session 3 2:30 - 3:30 PM The Man Who Wasn't There:
The Strange New Science of
the Self
Anil Ananthaswamy
The Self and Sense of Self:
Perspectives from
Evolutionary Science
Pathik Wadhwa

Closing Session
facilitated by
Jaap Sluijter

END AT 4:30 PM

  3:30 - 4:00 PM Break Break
  4:00 - 6:00 PM Exploration Exploration
Evening 6:00 - 8:00 PM      



Full Event - with lunch ($225.00 / person)

Full Day - with lunch ($85.00 / person / day)

Full-time student discount: 40%