Are we social beings? A dialogue between neuroscience and philosophy€ 3.00
"Put yourself in my shoes!”, “What would you do in my position?” We have all been asked these questions by someone who wants our advice. What we have perhaps never imagined is that this appeal is addressed to a huge number of areas in our brain, with extremely different functions and characteristics. Almost 30 years after their discovery, today we know that mirror neurons are not just a peculiarity in a small part of the cortex, they actually reflect a mechanism fundamental to the working of the brain. They actually form the basis of our ability to understand the actions and emotions of other people. This is a specific kind of understanding, which comes from within. In some ways, the experience we have when watching other people act or feel an emotion is no different to when we ourselves act or feel an emotion first hand. A neuroscientist and a philosopher talk about our nature as “social beings”.
Giacomo Rizzolatti, a world famous neurophysiologist, is Head of the Parma Unit of the CNR’s Institute of Neurosciences. He led the team that discovered mirror neurons at the beginning of the 1990s. These brain cells activate whether one performs an action oneself or if one watches another person doing a similar action. In 2014, the Lundbeck Foundation awarded him the Brain Prize and he also won the Feltrinelli Prize for Medicine the same year, while in 2016 he was given the Lombardia è Ricerca Prize.
Giacomo Rizzolatti & i Dialoghi
Corrado Sinigaglia is Professor of Philosophy of Science at the Università degli Studi in Milan. He researches the processes behind the most elementary forms of social cognition (understanding action, coordinating action, collective action). With Giacomo Rizzolatti, he is the co-author of So quel che fai (2006) and Specchi nel cervello. Come comprendiamo gli altri dall’interno (2019) published by Raffaello Cortina.