Workshop: East–West Connections: Cultural Patterns, Cognitive Patterns and a Good Life


Date: 16 – 17 September 2015

Venue: Nanyang Executive Centre, Nanyang Technological University

Address: 60 Nanyang View, Singapore 639673
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Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore is one of Asia’s and the world’s premium universities with over 35.000 students. NTU is covering most of the fields of technology and engineering, from space technologies through civil engineering to biotechnologies, but it also has schools in the fields of, among others, the humanities, psychology, biology and medicine. NTU already has some strong research groups related to cognitive sciences, but it aims now at developing a well-focused and “context specific” research programme on human cognition (i.e. appropriate for the profile of NTU, using its already existing research platforms and enriching it with new research areas as well as unique for its Singaporean context as a “hub” in-between East and West).
As a first step to achieve these goals, we organised on the 15th-16th-17th of September 2014 a workshop with the same title.
Since then NTU decided to establish a Human Brain Imaging Centre, led by one of us (BG). In the light of this, we wish to continue our workshop series and build up international expertise in the field of cognitive neuroscience research with advanced neuroimaging techniques. 
But this is only one impetus to the present workshop plan. The other major impetus of the workshop comes from the Para Limes at NTU, led by another one of us (JV).
Para Limes at NTU is dedicated to exploring complexity by going beyond the boundaries of disciplines, cultures and institutes. In this spirit, Para Limes at NTU initiates and entertains exploratory projects by teams of world-class scientists, philosophers, artists, policy makers, and men and women of practice. Para Limes has already organised a series of conferences on various interdisciplinary themes, including the ones with the titles “Emerging patterns”, “Hidden connections”, “A crude look at the whole”, and “More is different”. Further such conferences are planned in 2016, including “Silent transformations”, “The complexity lens” and “Science and Humanity”.
The third major impetus of the present workshop comes from the plan of having a very high level conference on “A Good Life” in February 2017, focusing on the essence of a good life (including a good death). More precisely, the conference will address the question: “What, in the thoughts and heart of an individual person, makes his/her life worth to live.”
The present workshop, together with some of the aforementioned future Para Limes conferences in 2016, would explore various aspects of “a good life”, including cultural, neurocognitive, emotional aspects as well as the Eastern and Western approaches.
In this spirit, the present workshop will focus on cultural patterns and cognitive patterns in the East and West, with special regard to those patterns which are determined by our natural-genetic endowments in contrast to those patterns which are influenced by our cultural (“East-West”) influences. And, if possible, a unique flavour should be given during the talks and discussion to “a good life” aspects within the above contexts.
We intend to achieve that boundaries of disciplines and institutes do not limit the scope of the individual talks, or the discussions. In fact we want to go beyond boundaries, break now ground, and identify new questions. To make sure such high level, mind broadening discussions happen, we have invited speakers from totally different fields.