MSU’s Bickle to speak at prestigious Israeli colloquium

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

John Bickle (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Miss.— The leader of Mississippi State’s Department of Philosophy and Religion is delivering two lectures Jan. 16 and 18, 2017, at the Bar-Hillel Colloquium for the History, Philosophy and Sociology of Science in Israel.

Titled “Tool Development: How Experiment-Driven Sciences Progress” and “Little-e eliminativism in molecular and cellular cognition,” Professor John Bickle’s presentations will focus on recent and recurring themes in his research.

An MSU faculty member since 2009, Bickle will share insight regarding methodological lessons from ontogenetics, a new tool that is changing the nature and goals of explanation in neurobiology by giving experimenters unprecedented control over the activation or inhibition of specific nerve cells in the brains of behaving animals.

Bickle, who also serves as an adjunct professor of psychology and fellow of Mississippi State’s Institute for Imaging and Analytical Technologies, said he plans to discuss ways in which “theory-driven” sciences such as contemporary physics and “experiment-driven” sciences such as molecular biology differ.

“Philosophy and history of science, and more recently my own field, philosophy of neuroscience, have been important in Israeli philosophy for decades,” explained the University of California, Los Angeles, philosophy and psychobiology graduate.

An affiliated faculty member of the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Bickle said “philosophy is understood by many Israeli academics to be central to all academic and intellectual endeavors, including the scientific.”

Also a master’s and doctoral graduate of the University of California, Irvine, Bickle said he is looking forward to addressing philosophers, historians, scientists, graduate students and post-doctoral researchers at one of the world’s best interdisciplinary institutes.

The January visit will mark Bickle’s first trip to Israel, the 23rd country where he has been invited to give a research talk.

“To get feedback from both scientifically-minded philosophers and philosophically-sensitive scientists—and at the same time demonstrate the strength of Mississippi State’s College of Arts and Sciences faculty internationally—makes this invitation a truly unique opportunity,” Bickle said.

Established in 1981 and re-named in 1987 for late Israeli professor and philosopher of science Yehoshua Bar-Hillel, the colloquium is a joint venture of the Edelstein Center for History and Philosophy of Science, Technology, and Medicine at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Cohn Institute for History and Philosophy of Science at Tel Aviv University, and the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute.

Each academic year, the colloquium sponsors seven to eight guest lectures, with two to three being given by speakers from the United States.

This past November, Bickle was appointed the American Philosophical Association’s representative to the American Academy for the Advancement of Science’s section on neuroscience. The APA is the world’s largest and most influential association for academic philosophers, and the AAAS is one of the most influential associations dedicated to professional science and its advancement.

Effective in February 2017, Bickle’s new appointment will enable him to develop new resources and opportunities for academic philosophers—both domestic and international—to interact with neuroscientists in interdisciplinary research that crosses traditional boundaries between humanities and the sciences.

Learn more about MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences at; its Department of Philosophy and Religion,

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