Minerva Meeting in Munich

April 11, 2018

The Minerva Fellowship Committee and the Israeli Fellows came together for the annual Minerva Symposium in Germany. Three excellent projects were presented.

Group Picture of the Minerva Fellowship Meeting 2018 in Munich

The Minerva Fellowship Committee assembled for its annual spring conference at the Max Planck Headquaters in Munich from 11 April to 12 April to discuss the new applications for the Fellowship Programme, the Gentner Symposium, the Minerva Schools and the ARCHES award. The Israeli Minerva Fellows staying in Germany joined the Committee during the evening of the first day where three of them presented their current research projects to the audience.

Starting with a guided city tour of Munich, the Committee members and the Minerva Fellows had the oportunity to visit the famous Oldtown and learn more about the history of Munich. Whilst the Committee retreated to its first discussion round at the Max Planck Headquaters afterwards, the Fellows were given the opportunity to enjoy the city center a bit longer. In the late afternoon, the Minerva Fellows joined the Committee at the General Headquater's central meeting room for an evening symposium. Max Planck President Martin Stratmann welcomed all guests and emphasised the importance of the scientific cooperation between Israel and Germany. Then the Head of the Fellowship Committee, Stefan Offermanns, greeted the Fellows and the Head of Office, Dr. Lou Bohlen, announced the latest news of the Minerva Stiftung. Afterwards, three Fellows presented their research topics to the audience:

Silvia Jonas talks about her project 'mathematics analogies'

Dr. Silvia Jonas (LMU) explained how ‘mathematics analogies’, structural parallels between mathematics and domains like ethics or religion, impact metaphysical realism-antirealism debates in contemporary analytical philosophy. In her project, she investigates the evidential force of using mathematics as a model for other a priori domains by developing a methodology for analogical reasoning about them, and by carving out a unified framework in which ontological, semantic, and epistemological questions may be tackled.

The question how the imagery of the Sacred shapes contemporary art lies within the main focus of the thesis of Dr. Ben-Meir (FU Berlin). In his presentation he demonstrated how visual traditions of holy images, cult objects, religious spaces and journeys, reappear in the art of the twenty-first century, and reshaped according to current political and economic factors. He pointed out that by reworking traditional images, concepts and worship practices, contemporary artists achieve sharper references to current contemporary social and political debates, such as national conflicts, immigration, social mobility and exclusion.

Mr. Dan Alin Ganea (RWTH Aachen) inspired the audience with his topic of pupillometry (the measure of pupil size and reactivity) and its use to assess decision related cognitive processes. He presented the results of his study, which showed for the first time that, when subjects are engaged in the performance of a choice requiring task, changes in pupil size reflect the confidence of the subject in his ensuing choice. In addition, he demonstrated that pupil size taken as a proxy to general brain state is indicative of task engagement/disengagement states rather than general arousal levels.

Afterwards, the Committee and the Fellows were invited for dinner by the Minerva team. On the next day the Minerva Committee met up for its final decisions.

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