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Bob Haxton Discussion Series: What Motivates Our Actions?

Friday, May 19, 2023, 10:00 AM until 11:30 AM
Halpern Room

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See schedule below.

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Investigating why we act the way we do causes us to re-examine beliefs which seem

fundamental to the integrity of our selves and society, but this re-evaluation holds the promise of dramatic benefits for both. This enquiry is not new, Boswell and Samuel Johnson argued about it 300 years ago, but recently Science has added its authority to the debate.

In this series of talks and interviews gleaned from YouTube we will watch a number of well-respected scientists and authors elaborate on the following topics: the illusion of free will, the illusion of self, the tyranny of thinking, the influ­ences that shape our actions, and contending with these situations. Each session will end with discussion.

May 19
Sam Harris

One could argue that the refutation of the illusion of free will is more threatening to the fabric of society than the refutation of the illusion of the sun going around the earth. Dr. Sam Harris is a Neurophysiologist, author, meditator and host of the podcast “Waking Up” which has become a mission for him. In his own words “its purpose is to radically transform your sense of what life is about” and “who and what you are".

Free Will Lecture” (58 minutes).

May 26
Susan Blackmore

The illusion of free will, the scientific proof: the Libet experiment. Dr. Blackmore is a British lec­turer and journalist who has written extensively for The Guardian and is the author of many books, most notably “The Meme Machine,” ”Conversations on Consciousness” and “Consciousness: An Introduction,” which became a text book, and after having the experience her­self, “Parapsychology and out - of - the - body experiences." 

“Free Will is an Illusion(10 minutes) and “Living Without Free Will” (70 minutes) (this lecture may be edited to allow adequate time for discussion).

June 2 David Bohm

Dr. David Bohm’s doctoral thesis was instrumen­tal in the production of the atom bomb but he wasn’t allowed to read it as it had been branded top secret and he was a Communist. Oppenheimer facilitated him getting his doctorate and Einstein asked him to be his assistant, but in the face of the growing opposition to Communism both men persuaded Bohm to leave the country, which he did, taking a position in Brazil.

“Thought creates the thinker; we distort every­thing to protect the ego” (60 minutes).

June 9
David Suzuki, David Bohm, Jiddu Krishnamurti

David Suzuki asks Bohm how it came to pass that an eminent physicist ended up having a long and close relationship with an Indian mystic, Jiddu Krishnamurti.

“Dr. David Suzuki interviews Dr. David Bohm, physicist, on The Nature of Things(40 minutes); “David Bohm on Krishnamurti and the problem of thought” (5 minutes) “Thought has to find security” Jiddu Krishnamurti (10 minutes)

June 16 Jiddu Krishnamurti

Jiddu Krishnamurti was groomed to be the new “World Teacher” by the Theosophical Society (founded by Helen Blavatsky in New York in 1875) but later rejected this mantle and withdrew from the organization. He traveled the world speaking to large and small groups, as well as individuals.

Krishnamurti answers questions:

“How do I deal with my deep-rooted emotions?” (36 minutes); “If there were no me, would there be suffering?” (15 minutes); “To live with what is” (10 minutes)

June 23 Ekhart Tolle

German born Ekhart Tolle decided at age 13 that he was not going to school anymore, so his mother shipped him off to his father, who was living in Spain. His father was less concerned about this decision and let him pursue his own interests of philosophy and languages. By 1977, at age 29, he had managed to enrol in a post­graduate program at the University of Cambridge. After a night of severe depression, followed by an epiphany, he stopped studying for his doctorate and spent his time sleeping rough on Hampstead Heath and “watching the world go by”. Oprah Winfrey promoted his best-known book “The Power of Now” and eight years later partnered with him for a series of webinars focusing on chapters from his books.

“Stop Your Mind From Using You: How Mindful­ness Can Bring Balance To Your World” (80 minutes)

June 30 Ekhart Tolle at Google

“Ekhart Tolle Digital Age: Living wth Meaning, Purpose, Wisdom” (90 minutes) (this lecture may be edited to allow adequate time for discussion)


July 7 Yuval Noah Harari

Harari is an Israeli public intellectual, historian, and professor at the Hebrew University of Jeru­salem. He has written several best sellers includ­ing “Sapiens” where he shows how we beat out competing hominids by virtue of being able to tell stories and "Homo Deus" where he shows us how our technological expertise has given us God-like power. He is also a meditator who med­itates every day and for a month every year and maintains that meditation was instrumental in his writing of these books.

Yuval Noah Harari and Mark Salms

“Dawn of Future Consciousness” (77 minutes)

July 14 Yuval Noah Harari in conversation with Sam Harris

“Meditation, Religion and God” (18 minutes)

“Sam Harris and Yuval Noah Harari on Medita­tion” (10 minutes) (sound only, no video)

“Yuval Noah Harari - Meditation is Not the Solu­tion to Your Problems” (2 minutes)

“The Politics of Consciousness” a lecture (31 minutes)

July 21 Michael Pollan

Pollan never got a Science degree but has never­theless gained a number of prestigious titles in the field. He is best known for his books that explore the socio-cultural impact of foods. Books such as “The Botany of Desire”, “The Om­nivore’s Dilemma”, "How to Change Your Mind” and “This is Your Mind On Plants”

“How to Change Your Mind” (45 minutes)

“Psilocybin and MDMA Will Be Legal Therapeu­tics ...” (10 minutes)

July 28 Gabor Maté

Dr. Maté spent two years as a high school teacher before becoming a doctor, working in palliative care at Vancouver General Hospital and then with drug addicts in the Downtown East Side of Vancouver, an area probably unrivalled in its concentration of drug addicts. He has earned an international reputation for his views on the causes of drug addiction, seeing it as stemming from trauma caused by a toxic culture.

“The Myth of Normal: Dr. Gabor Maté on Trauma, illness and....” (40 minutes)

August 4
Gabor Maté

“Dr. Gabor Maté on Love, Trauma, Disillusion­ment and Creativity” (56


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