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Sociality and the Self: An Interdisciplinary Working Group

Sociality and the Self is a working group convened by the Human Network Initiative in the Neurology Department of Harvard Medical School / Brigham and Women’s Hospital. It aims to explore the deep structures of human selfhood, and how they are shaped by social interaction and connection in the broadest senses. It focuses on both theoretical issues—the nature of human selfhood and its need for intersubjective connection—as well as more practical concerns including pressing issues related to loneliness, alienation, poverty, social connection and identity.


The group will bring expertise from medical scientists and philosophers together around these core questions, but aims to draw insights from many other forms of human inquiry as well. The group arises from the sense that although human sociality has become a major focal point in numerous academic disciplines —from neuroscience to sociology to political philosophy—integrative theoretical models are far too weak and siloed. The group will seek to drive toward greater theoretical clarity about central issues related to human sociality:


  • How intrinsic is social connection to human flourishing? 


  • What are the key interactions and cognitive / neural mechanisms by which the self is socially shaped? 


  • What types of pathologies result directly from isolation or relational dysfunction? 


  • What happens when relational dysfunction is scaled to societal or political levels?


  • How do large-scale social and cultural realities influence individual experiences of loneliness?


  • What does the intrinsic sociality of human cognition tell us about the possibilities for artificial intelligence?


  1. Jeffrey Bishop (Philosopher & Bioethicist, Saint Louis University)

  2. Craig Calhoun (Sociologist, Arizona State)

  3. Sofia Carozza (Neuroscientist, University of Cambridge)*

  4. Yuria Celidwen (Psychologist, UC Berkley / United Nations)

  5. Ian Corbin (Philosopher, Harvard Medical School)*

  6. Natalie Depraz (Philosopher, University of Rouen)

  7. Amar Dhand (Neurologist & Anthropologist, Harvard Medical School)

  8. Roberto Goizueta (Theologian, Boston College)

  9. Lisa Guenther (Philosopher, Queen’s University)

  10. Julianne Holt-Lunstad (Psychologist, BYU)

  11. William Hurlbut (Physician & Bioethicist, Stanford University)

  12. Sean Kelly (Philosopher, Harvard University)

  13. Samuel Kimbriel (Philosopher, Aspen Institute)*

  14. Darcia Narvaez (Psychologist, University of Notre Dame)

  15. Cyrus Olsen (Theologian, University of Scranton)

  16. Brandon Paradise (Legal Scholar, Rutgers)*

  17. Archana Podury (Physician, Harvard Medical School)

  18. John Rogove (Philosopher, Paris Husserl Archive ENS)*

  19. Justin E.H. Smith (Philosopher, University of Paris / Princeton University)

  20. Zachary Wehrwein (Sociologist, Harvard Medical School)



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