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Roberto Poli
Towards an Age of Synthesis (Introductory Lecture to Debate)


This talk investigates the impact of a non-reductionist view of reality on the sciences. We examine claims that assert “all reality is nothing but…”. For example, the claim that consciousness is nothing but electrical impulses in the brain, or that biological processes are nothing but physical/chemical reactions. What happens if the theories and explanations in a discipline eliminate such “nothing but” claims? What new insights become available for theories that take reality to be multi-aspectual and multi-leveled? Are they actually freed from pre-conceived limits so as to account for more sides to their data? Are there clear strategies for explanation that are non-reductionist?

Roberto Poli (PhD Utrecht) teaches Applied Ethics and Futures Studies at the University of Trento. Poli is editor-in-chief of Axiomathes (Springer), member of the editorial advisory board of Cognitive Semiotics and of the editorial board of Meinong Studies, editor of Categories (Ontos Verlag), member of the editorial boards of Process Thought, Dialogikon, and Economy Transdisciplinarity Cognition. He is member of the Academic Board of Directors of the Metanexus Institute, Philadelphia ( His research interests include (1) the theory of values and the concept of person (Fra speranza e responsabilità. Introduzione alle strutture ontologiche dell’etica, Polimetrica, 2006), (2) anticipatory systems, i.e. system able to take decisions according to their possible future development (R. Poli and R. Miller, Understanding Anticipatory Systems, special issue of Foresight, 2009), and (3) ontology, in both its traditional philosophical understanding and the new, computer-oriented, understanding (TAO-Theory and Applications of Ontology, 2 vols Springer 2009). Poli has published four books, edited or co-edited more than 20 books or journal’s special issues and published more than 150 scientific papers.


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