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SSQ Logo--Return to the main SSQ pageSSQ/UIP Vatican University Conference

Foundations and the Ontological Quest:
An Outlook at the Beginning of the Millennium
January 7-10, 2002
The Pontifical Lateran University, Vatican City

Conference Overview

The Vatican Conference was organized by IRAFS – International Research Area on Foundations of the Sciences of the Philosophy Faculty at the Pontifical Lateran University, under the patronage of the Pontifical Council for Culture of the Holy See, in collaboration with UIP – Université Interdisciplinaire de Paris (France) and SSQ - Science and the Spiritual Quest (USA) in January 2002.  This interdisciplinary event brought together scholars on the topic of the scientific and metaphysical bases of mathematics, physics and cognitive sciences and was held at the Pontifical Lateran University in Vatican City.

The aim of the Vatican Conference was to present and to discuss three different areas of scientific research: Mathematics and Logic, Physics and Cosmology, and Cognitive Sciences, with special attention to the ontological implications of scientific inquiry on foundations in each of these fields.  This focus on the ontological implications was emphasized on the fourth day of the Conference, in the session on Ontological Connections, in which the more philosophical implications of the debate were developed.

The Conference provided:

  • Scientists involved in foundational research an occasion - in the present scientific context all too rare - to present and freely discuss the latest results of their work.
  • Philosophers and theologians a contribution of their work, so that their debates on the mathematical and natural sciences could rely also on foundational research developed independently within each scientific discipline.

At the end of each session, all the speakers of the day were invited to join a Panel Session in which to discuss their positions. Several Professors of the Philosophy Faculty at the Pontifical Lateran University joined the Conference, and gave input during the Panel sessions.  Those from the Pontifical Lateran University participating in these sessions were: ANGELA ALES BELLO, EMILIO BACCARINI, PIETRO GIUSTINI, ANTONIO LIVI, LEONARDO MESSINESE, ANICETO MOLINARO and HORST SEIDL.

Organizing Committee

Sarah Jones Nelson, Princeton University, Princeton NJ
Jean Staune, UIP, Paris
Philip Clayton, CTNS, Berkeley CA
Melchor Sanchez de Toca, Pontifical Council for Culture, Vatican City
Antonio Luigi Perrone, IRAFS, Vatican City
Gianfranco Basti, IRAFS, Vatican City

Conference Purpose

The aim of our Conference is to present and to discuss during four days the state of the art on foundations in three different areas of scientific research: Mathematics and Logic, Physics and Cosmology, and Cognitive Sciences, with special attention to the ontological implications of scientific inquiry on foundations in each of these fields.

This focus on the ontological implications is emphasized in the fourth day of the Conference, in the section on Ontological Connections, in which the more philosophical implications of the foundations debate can be developed. In this way, the Conference can make a double contribution:

  1. To give scientists involved in foundational research an occasion - in the present scientific context all too rare - to present and freely discuss the latest results of their work.
  2. To give philosophers and even theologians a contribution to their work, so that their debates on the mathematical and natural science results and applications can rely also on foundational research developed independently within each scientific discipline.

In order to favorite the dialogue and the debate, at the end of each Section, all the speakers of the day are invited to join a Panel Session in which to discuss their positions and short, pre-registered, communications, presented by other participants at the Conference.

Several Professors of the Philosophy Faculty at the Pontifical Lateran University will join the Conference works, and give communications at the Panel sessions:

ANGELA ALES BELLO
EMILIO BACCARINI
PIETRO GIUSTINI
ANTONIO LIVI
LEONARDO MESSINESE
ANICETO MOLINARO
HORST SEIDL

CONFERENCE PROGRAM

MONDAY, JANUARY 7TH, 2002
09.30 Bishop Angelo Scola, Rector of the Pontifical Lateran University: Opening Address
09.45 Cardinal Paul Poupard, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture: Introductory Speech

I SECTION: «MATHEMATICS AND LOGIC»
General Chairman: EDWARD NELSON, Princeton University, USA.
Morning Session
Chairman: SIMON KOCHEN
10.15 EDWARD NELSON, Princeton University, USA. Plenary Speech on: Syntax and semantics
11.15 Discussion
11.30 Coffee Break
11.45 PIERRE CARTIER, É cole Normal Supérieure, Paris, France: A relativistic ontology for the working mathematician
12.15 Discussion
12.30 Lunch Break
Afternoon Session
Chairman: PIERRE CARTIER
14.30 BENGT NORDSTRÖM, Goteborg University, Sweden: Constructivism. A computer science perspective
15.15 Discussion
15.30 Coffee Break
15.45 SIMON KOCHEN, Princeton University, USA: Why the things happen: extensions of the quantum mechanics from ensembles to individual systems
16.15 Discussion
16.30 Coffee Break
16.45 PANEL SESSION. Chairman: EDWARD NELSON
18.00 Section End

TUESDAY JANUARY 8TH:
II SECTION: «PHYSICS AND COSMOLOGY».

General Chairman: ROGER PENROSE, Oxford University, GB.
Morning Session
Chairman: LYMAN PAGE
09.30 ROGER PENROSE, Oxford University, GB. Plenary Speech: The physics of the small and the large: what is the bridge between them
10.30 Discussion
10.45 Coffee Break
11.00 ANTON ZEILINGER, Wien Universität, Austria: Quantum physics and information
11.45 Discussion
12.00 PAUL STEINHARDT, Princeton University, USA: The endless universe
12.45 Discussion
13.00 Lunch Break
Afternoon Session
Chairman: PAUL STEINHARDT
14.30 JOE SILK, Oxford University, GB: Early galaxies formation
15.15 Discussion
15.30 Coffee Break
15.45 LYMAN PAGE, Princeton University, USA: Seeing the edge of the universe
16.30 Discussion
16.45 PANEL SESSION. Chairman: ROGER PENROSE
18.00 Section End

WENSDAY JANUARY 9TH
III SECTION: «COGNITIVE SCIENCES»

General Chairman: WALTER FREEMAN
Morning Session
Chairman: HUBERT DREYFUS
09.30 WALTER FREEMAN, University of California at Berkeley, USA. Plenary Speech: Brain and body: human acquisition of knowledge and wisdom through intentional action and the perception of its consequences .
10.30 Discussion
10.45 Coffee Break
11.15 ARTHUR PEACOCKE, Oxford University, GB: The hierarchy of the sciences: body, brain and mind
12.00 Discussion
12.15 Lunch Break
Afternoon Session
Chairman: ARTHUR PEACOCKE
14.00 HUBERT DREYFUS, University of California at Berkeley, USA: A phenomenology of skill acquisition as the basis for a non-representationalist cognitive science
14.45 Discussion
15.00 VILAYANUR RAMACHANDRAN, University of California at S. Diego, USA: What neurology can tell us about human natures and synesthesias
15.45 Discussion
16.00 Coffee Break
16.15 RODOLFO LLINA S, University of New York, USA: Role of thalamocortical oscillation in normal and abnormal cognition
17.00 Discussion
17.15 PANEL SESSION. Chairman: WALTER FREEMAN
18.15 Section End

THURSDAY JANUARY 10TH
IV SECTION «ONTOLOGICAL CONNECTIONS»

General Chairman: BERNARD D'ESPAGNAT
Morning Session
Chairman: BASARAB NICOLESCU
09.30 BERNARD D'ESPAGNAT, Institut de France, Paris, France. Plenary Speech: Quantum physics and the ontological problem.
10.30 Discussion
10.45 Coffee Break
11.15 JOHN POLKINGHORNE, Cambridge University, GB: The new physics and opportunities for ontological initiatives
12.00 Discussion
12.15 Lunch Break
Afternoon Session
Chairman : JOHN POLKINGHORNE
14.30 BASARAB NICOLESCU, Université de Paris, France: Levels of reality and the sacred
15.15 Discussion
15.30 Coffee Break
15.45 PHILIP CLAYTON, CTNS and Sonoma State University, USA: Science,religion, and the metaphysics of the infinite
16.30 Discussion
16.45 PANEL SESSION. Chairman: BERNARD D'ESPAGNAT
18.00 Section End

The official language of the Conference is English. Simultaneous translation into Italian is previewed.

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