Date: Tuesday 13 September 2022

Time: Lecture at 18:00, followed by cocktail party

Venue: Neuroscience Institute, Groote Schuur Hospital, University of Cape Town

Speakers: Dr Fuad Udemans (scientist and entrepreneur), Emeritus Professor Anwar Mall Emeritus Professor (medical biochemist) and Nazeer Rahbeeni (poet and engineer).

Nazeer Rahbeeni

The Standard Bank and the Centre for Extra-Mural Studies, University of Cape Town, invites you to a lecture followed by a cocktail party.

Albert Einstein displayed thinking in an integrated way, relishing inter-connectedness and celebrating the coming together of disparate and partial ideas from different disciplines in formulating his theories of special and general relativity. There is an increasing need for integrated thinking to solve the major complex problems facing humanity today.

Richard Dawkins, in his seminal book The Selfish Gene, proposed that for life to begin on Earth, there had to be a molecule that could make a copy of itself (replicate). Genes are the modern version of these replicating molecules, and they are in the cells of all living things. ‘We are survival machines – robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes.’ Dawkins further proposed that the gene is the unit of natural selection. All matter is made of atoms and the process of atoms to conscious beings is one of increased complexity, a phenomenon characteristic of artificial systems too.

Emeritus Professor Anwar Mall

But strangely, human societies and communities practice altruism, based on reciprocity. Co-operation is the order of the day, and the division of labor, specialisation, and a harmonious interaction of various systems, as in our own bodies so necessary for survival of the regulated (homeostatic) living organism, is mirrored in the structure of modern society. The economist Adam Smith was the first to recognise that the division of labour was what made society more than the sum of its parts.

But modern capitalist societies such as ours seem to fail their citizens through the failure of its various systems. Inequality, poverty, and unemployment are rife, and analysts warn us about the impending doom that awaits us.

Dr Fuad Udemans

Could our ailing society be redeemed by a better integration of the of the various bodies and systems that govern our lives?

We propose that the natural world has a lot to teach us about how to live and create a sustainable environment.

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