Interdisciplinary Workshop, 28-30 August 2014, Saint-Petersburg, Russia

Unity of consciousness has been seen as a defining feature of human mind at least since the XVII century. Such great thinkers as John Locke, Immanuel Kant, William James or Edmund Husserl sought to explain what consciousness is, while assuming that it is something unitary and introspectively available. But is that so? Do we have a clear understanding of the presumed unity?

What is unity of consciousness – a biological mechanism, a psychological epiphenomenon or even an illusion? Hasn’t cognitive neuroscience shown us that most conscious processes have non-conscious beginnings and that it is extremely hard to distinguish between those processes which are conscious and those which are not? If blindsight and split-brain patients show us that consciousness is not always unitary, what does it teach us about personal identity?

Contemporary science of mind distinguishes three main aspects to the general question of unity of consciousness. The first aspect concerns the self as a unified experience persisting over time. Scientists disagree whether the unified self supervenes on our memory and psychological experience or rather on our bodily continuity. The second aspect is the so called binding problem, i.e. the question how certain information is brought together in order to produce a unified perception of an object. The third aspect of the question is multisensory integration that takes place between senses as well as within them and results in a unified or holistic experience that we have.

The topics to be discussed:
What is unity of consciousness and can we do without it?
Can we reduce unity of consciousness to neural mechanisms underlying it?
What is personal identity?
Does personal identity depend on unity of consciousness?
Can persons persist through time and how can they do so?
Are persons material beings?

Invited speakers:

Lynne Rudder Baker,
Distinguished Professor, Department of Philosophy
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA

Dan Zahavi,
Professor, Department of Media, Cognition and Communication
University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Konstantin Anokhin,
Professor, Head of the Department of Neuroscience
Kurchatov Institute National Research Center, Moscow, Russia

The workshop is organized by the team of philosophers, psychologists and neurolinguists from St. Petersburg University and will take place in the historical center of the city, in beautiful old University lecture halls. The workshop will be held in English and in Russian. Plenary talks will be broadcasted online.

The local organizing committee in St. Petersburg: Danil Razeev, DSc in Philosophy, Head of the Department of Philosophy of Science and Technology, Tatiana Chernigovskaya, DSc in Linguistics and in Human Physiology, Head of the Department of General Linguistics, Head of the Laboratory of Cognitive Studies, Viktor Allakhverdov, DSc in Psychology, Head of the Department of General Psychology.

The workshop is supported by the Russian Foundation for Humanities (project No. 14-03-14038)

Call for applications:

We invite speakers for presentations. Please send the abstract of your presentation and your CV to
The application should be sent no later than 12 May 2014.
All applicants will be notified of acceptance by 20 May 2014.

Workshop participants travelling to St. Petersburg are advised to arrange their travel and accommodation in advance. There are several hotels close to St. Petersburg University. Prospective participants are advised to book early.

For more information please contact Maria Sekatskaya at or Sergey Levin at