Presence does not come for free, just for the price of admission. It is something we achieve. In this talk I explore this idea and consider, in particular, the ways we need to work with our values in order to bring the world, and other people, into focus.
Alva Noë is a writer and a philosopher living in Berkeley and New York. He works on the nature of mind and human experience. He is the author of Action in Perception (MITPress, 2004); Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2009); Varieties of Presence (Harvard University Press, 2012); Strange Tools: Art and Human Nature (Farrar Strauss and Giroux, 2015); and Infinite Baseball: Notes from a Philosopher at the Ballpark (Oxford University Press, 2019). His latest book is Learning To Look: Dispatches from the Art World (Oxford, 2022).
Alva received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1995 and is a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is also a member of theInstitute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences and the Center for New Media. He previously was a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He has been philosopher-in-residence withThe Forsythe Company and has also collaborated creatively with dance artistsDeborah Hay, Nicole Peisl, Jess Curtis, Claire Cunningham, Katye Coe, and Charlie Morrissey. Alva is a 2012 recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship and a former fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. He is a 2018 recipient of the Judd/Hume Prize in Advanced Visual Studies. He was a weekly contributor to National Public Radio’s now defunct science blog 13.7: Cosmos and Culture. Until 2025 Alva is an Einstein Visiting Fellow at the FreeUniversity in Berlin, where is the director of the Reorganizing Ourselves research group.