Nassau Community College's Natika Newton to Give Talk on "Understanding and Self-Organization" at Brookhaven Lab, May 18

Nassau Community College's Natika Newton enlarge

Nassau Community College's Natika Newton

UPTON, NY —Natika Newton, Associate Professor Emerita at Nassau Community College, will give a talk, “Understanding and Self-Organization,” at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory on May 18, at 4:30 p.m. in Hamilton Seminar Room, Building 555.  Sponsored by Brookhaven Science Associates, the event is free and open to the public. All visitors to the Laboratory 16 and older must bring a photo I.D.

As a philosopher, Newton’s main interests have always been in human mental processes such as consciousness, reasoning, understanding, and how those processes develop naturally without appealing to non-physical forces.

Newton will discuss the theory that we understand our world and our life events by interpreting them as forms of simple action and how our understanding of the world flows naturally until something unexpected or violent happens to disrupt it.

During her talk, Newton will also discuss the mechanism that allows us to feel continually at home in our environment. Is there a brain mechanism that could explain this? Newton will present the mechanism known as self-organization — the idea that from moment-to-moment in our daily lives we seek a comfortable state of understanding of what options we have, and without radical, unexpected breaks this understanding seems to flow without a conscious mental effort or decision. The brain mechanism of self-organization can be compared to the mechanism that allows termites to build gigantic termite mounds, or individually-programmed robots to construct unexpected patterns. Self-organization occurs on many levels in the brain, and Newton will explain her “top-down” approach, looking first at general psychological states, and then at the sub-states that underpin them. 

Newton hopes to show that our mental lives are much simpler than we think—understanding our place in the world and that our options start and end with our bodily experiences. Newton will describe the central concepts of self-organization, reasoning, acting, and the understanding that occurs for each of us every day.

Natika Newton earned her PhD from Stony Brook University. She has published many articles and several books on various aspects of intentionality, understanding, consciousness, cognitive neuroscience, and has served as editor of Consciousness and Emotion. Her book, Foundations of Understanding, contains the main elements of her theory of cognition. Her work has appeared in philosophy journals such as Analysis, Behavior and Philosophy, Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, Mind, NOUS, and Philosophia

Call (631) 344-2345 for more information.

Media Contacts: Jane Koropsak,, (631) 344-4909, or Peter Genzer,, (631) 344-3174.

2017-12227  |  INT/EXT  |  Newsroom