Edge was invited by Alvaro Fischer, the Director of Fundacion Ciencia Y Evolucion in Chile to attend the Foundation's Darwin Seminar in Santiago, entitled "Darwin's Intellectual Legacy To The 21st Century" and join the eight speakers (all Edge contributors) on a trip to the "extreme south" including a trip along "The Beagle Channel", named after the ship HMS Beagle which surveyed the coasts of the southern part of South America from 1826 to 1830.
The Seminar, which ran for two days, attracted an audience of 2,200 people on each day...
"Our intention is to illuminate and discuss how Darwinian thought influenced the disciplines that focus on the study the individuals (biology, neuroscience, psychology); the individual within their social interactions (anthropology, sociology, economy, political science); and how these concepts pertain, in general, to a moral philosophy."
Ian McEwan Steven Pinker Matt Ridley John Tooby
"We wish to explore how, from Darwinian thought, there emerges a vision of what it is to be a human being. And that this vision is fundamental and coherent with the entire body of accumulated scientific knowledge. With reverence for the details of their application, it is the impact of Darwin's ideas that is the reason we are celebrating Darwin's anniversary."
After the Seminar, the Foundation flew the group to Tierra del Fuego and The Beagle Channel, where we boarded the Chilean Navy Patrol boat SS Isaza at 6am at Puerto Williams the next day for a 19-hour trip to "the end of the world". Charles Darwin, on the second trip of HMS Beagle under Captain Robert FitzRoy, wrote in his field notebook in 1833, "many glaciers beryl blue most beautiful contrasted with snow".
As part of our celebration the three hundredth edition of Edge, we are pleased to present a video record (with accompanying slides) of the eight talks, a video interview with program organizer Alvaro Fischer, and a Photo Galleryof the trip.
Photo Credits: The Beagle Channel photographs on this page (and releated in the Photo Gallery) are by Steven Pinker. Images in the Photo Gallery are by Pilar Valenzuela (with the addition of the Pinker images and snapshots added by the speakers).
"Mountain In Glow of Sunrise Beagle Channel"
A Talk With Alvaro Fischer
ALVARO FISCHER mathematical engineer, entrepreneur and businessman, is President of the Ciencia y Evolución Foundation, organizer of the 2009 seminars on Darwin’s Legacy to the XXI Century , member of the editorial committee of the El Mercurio newspaper, author of Evolution: The New Paradigm.
Further reading on Edge: "Why Chile?" by Alvaro Fischer
"Clouds Over Darwin Range"
Some people think today that it is impossible for a mindless process to produce evolution. ... It isn't. ...There may be an intelligent God hidden in the evolution process, but if so, he might as well be asleep, since there is no work for him to do!
DANIEL C. DENNETT is a philosopher; University Professor, Co-Director, Center for Cognitive Studies, Tufts University; Author, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon
"Buff Necked Ibises In Flight"
There's a mismatch between the modern versus ancestral world. Our minds are equipped with programs that were evolved to navigate a small world of relatives, friends, and neighbors, not for cities and nation states of thousands or millions of anonymous people. Certain laws and institutions satisfy the moral intuitions these programs generate. But because these programs are now operating outside the envelope of environments for which they were designed, laws that satisfy the moral intuitions they generate may regularly fail to produce the outcomes we desire and anticipate that have the consequences we wish. ...
EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY Cognitive instincts for cooperation, institutions & society
LEDA COSMIDES, is the founder of the field of Evolutionary Psychology. She is he co-director of UCSB's Center for Evolutionary Psychology.
"Chilean Armada Ship PSG Isaza"
The modern social sciences are built on an Aristotlean blank slate foundation. On the Aristotlean view the mind is like a tape recorder or video recorder assumes: the mechanisms of recording (learning) do not impart any content of their own to the signal that it absorbs our mental content is therefore wholly supplied by the senses, especially from social sources (culture). Basing the social sciences on the mistaken theory that the mind is like a blank slate was a fundamental error that has kept the social sciences from being as fully successful as the natural sciences.
By John Tooby
JOHN TOOBY is the founder of the field of Evolutionary Psychology. He is he co-director of UCSB's Center for Evolutionary Psychology.
"Island Clouds and Mountains"
Language is an adaptation to the "cognitive niche". It facilitates exchange of information, negotiating of cooperation. But indirect speech (polite requests, veiled threats & bribes, sexual overtures) are a puzzle for the theory that language is an adaptation for efficient communication. Language is an adaptation to the "cognitive niche". ...
STEVEN PINKER is a Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology, Harvard University; Author, The Stuff of Thought.
"Upland Goose In Flight"
Farming — a division of labour between humans and other species; Fossil fuels — a division of labour between humans and extinct species?
By Matt Ridley
MATT RIDLEY is a Science Writer; Founding chairman of the International Centre for Life; Author, Francis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Code.
Further reading on Edge: "The Genome Changes Everything": A Talk with Matt Ridley
"Dramatic Sky Beagle Channel"
If we want to change the world, we need first to understand it. And when it comes to understanding human nature — male and female — Darwinian science is indispensable.
HELENA CRONIN launched and runs Darwin@LSE. She is a Co-Director of LSE's Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science. Author,The Ant and the Peacock: Altruism and Sexual Selection from Darwin to Today.
Further reading on Edge:"Getting Human Nature Right": A Talk with Helena Cronin
"Blue-Eyed Comorant In Flight"
...I want to engage you in a discussion of the deep history of beauty. By deep I mean as seen from an evolutionary perspective. I am an "evolutionary psychologist". I believe that to understand and fully appreciate human mental traits, we need to know why they are there — which is to say what biological function they are serving. Evolutionary psychology has been making pretty good progress. But, as we say, "there are still some elephants in the living room" — big issues that no one wants to talk about. And human beings worship of the beautiful remains one of the biggest.
NICHOLAS HUMPHREY is Professor Emeritus, London School of Economics and author of Seeing Red: A Study in Consciousness.
"Fuquet Glacier Face"
I'm going to talk about some convergences, about arts and science, as far apart as science and religion, two magisteria, if you might say, and yet at some human level they converge.
By Ian McEwan
IAN MCEWAN, novelist, is the author of On Chesil Beach.
"Soft Light Beagle Channel"