Culture vs. Consciousness: A Core Human Tension

April 29, 2020
Culture vs. Consciousness

Bret Weinstein2019-2020 James Madison Program Visiting Fellow, Princeton University and Heather E. Heying2019-2020 James Madison Program Visiting Fellow, Princeton University. Moderated by Robert P. GeorgeMcCormick Professor of Jurisprudence; Director, James Madison Program, Princeton University.

Most creatures are adapted to their environment. Humans are, in many ways, a notable exception to this, having adapted to the process of transition between environments rather than to any particular one. Having developed a model of culture and consciousness—human traits that are both fundamental to our humanity, and in inherent tension with one another—Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein posit that the 21st century is either a dead-end for humanity, or a gateway to something as yet unanticipated. In this discussion, Dr. Heying and Dr. Weinstein present a model for how humans address such predicaments.

Bret Weinstein and Heather E. Heying are 2019-2020 James Madison Program Visiting Fellows and are currently at work on a book project, A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century, to be published by Penguin Press in Spring 2021. Prior to their present research, Dr. Heying and Dr. Weinstein were professors at The Evergreen State College; both resigned in the wake of 2017 campus riots that focused in part on their opposition to a day of racial segregation and other college “equity” proposals. 

To learn more about Dr. Weinstein and Dr. Heying's experiences at Evergreen State, see the Madison Program's 2018 event, Speak Freely.

Dr. Weinstein’s scholarly research is focused on evolutionary trade-offs, and he has worked on the evolution of senescence and cancer, species diversity gradients, and the adaptive significance of human morality and religion. He has written for The Wall Street Journal and testified to the U.S. Congress regarding questions of freedom of expression on college campuses. He is currently the host of Bret Weinstein’s DarkHorse Podcast. Dr. Weinstein earned a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Michigan, where he was given the Don Tinkle Award for distinguished work in Evolutionary Ecology, and he earned a B.A. in Biology from UCSC.

Dr. Heying’s scholarly research has focused on the evolution of social systems and behavior, including territoriality, mating systems, and parental care and has been published in Animal BehaviourProceedings of the Royal Society, and the Journal of Zoology. Her book, Antipode, about research, culture, and wildlife in Madagascar, was published by St. Martin’s Press. She has also written and spoken on modern risks to higher education (in the Wall Street Journal, Public Discourse, andAcademic Questions), on the value of risk and wild nature (New York Times), and on women, science, and feminism (QuilletteAreo). She earned a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Michigan, where she was given the Distinguished Dissertation Award, and a B.A. in Anthropology from UCSC. 

Robert P. George holds Princeton University's McCormick Chair in Jurisprudence and is the Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions. He has served as chairman of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), and before that on the President’s Council on Bioethics and as a presidential appointee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights. He has also served as the U.S. member of UNESCO’s World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST). He is a former Judicial Fellow at the Supreme Court of the United States, where he received the Justice Tom C. Clark Award. A graduate of Swarthmore College, he holds M.T.S. and J.D. degrees from Harvard University and the degrees of D.Phil., B.C.L., D.C.L., and D.Litt. from Oxford University.

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Culture vs. Consciousness: A Core Human Tension

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