Dr. Samuel Veissière

An anthropologist and cognitive scientist by training, Dr. Samuel Veissière is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and co-director of the Culture, Mind, and Brain program at McGill University.  He specializes in social and cultural dimensions of cognition, attention, and mental health from evolutionary and ecological (niche construction) perspectives.  His current research spans various topics from cultural factors in hypnosis, suggestion, and placebo therapeutics, hyper-sociality in smartphone addiction, social polarization, gender and men’s mental health, variational (free-energy) approaches to the evolution of cognition and culture, and agent-based modeling of joint-intentionality and complex social processes.

Talk Title:
The promises and perils of interdisciplinary

As the current story goes, everybody loves interdisciplinarity, but nobody wants to pay for it.   There are, to be sure, distinct challenges associated with training and hiring scholars and accommodating students across institutional departmental boundaries and highly specialized funding agencies.  From a training perspective, additional time and effort are also required to master the basics and specifics of different intellectual traditions, canonical texts and concepts, and methodologies.   One additional risk, thus, is to produce scholars who are jacks of all trades, but masters of none.     The next risk, in turn, might be the hardest to tackle, and the hardest to conceptualize to begin with.   Do different disciplines share a same worldview and different tools to hack at the same world, or do they operate in different worlds altogether, with incommensurable paradigms and normative commitments?    In my panel contribution, I will highlight these challenges and make a case for the importance of normative pluralism on the one hand, and a collaborative epistemological universalism without uniformity (to borrow Julia Cassaniti’s phrase) – that is, a commitment to exploring different perspectives on a shared world.