Come and Discuss

In this salon, Tom Beakbane will explore the implications of consilience.

August 10 at 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm EDT – $10

Social justice, gender, vaccines, post-truth, Trump, climate change, patriotism, race, policing… mention any of these words amongst strangers and you’ll get a nervous glance and the conversation will momentarily chill. Each of these words evoke emotions that expose fault lines in our social landscape. 

How can we explain why this is happening? And, how can we set about promoting constructive dialogue?

We are unlikely to make progress by judging which side has views that are closest to the truth because that inevitably means picking a side and joining the battle. There is a new way of understanding… consilience.

Consilience sounds nice evoking reconciliation and consultation, but that is not what the cleric, professor and polymath William Whewell had in mind when he coined the word in 1840. He combined siliens, which in Latin means jump, and com, which means together, to express how an insight can “jump together” domains of understanding that would otherwise remain disconnected.

Let us start by understanding the neurophysiology of our own reactions to these and other triggering words…