Talks at Google – Trying Not to Try

This is the third in a series of Talks at Google by current and former fellows of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) at Stanford University. Previous CASBS speakers appearing in the Talks at Google program include Rose McDermott and Eric Klinenberg. Learn more about CASBS at http://casbs.stanford.edu and follow @CASBSStanford.

Edward Slingerland was a 2015-16 CASBS fellow. He is professor of Asian studies and Canada Research Chair in Chinese Thought and Embodied Cognition at the University of British Columbia (UBC), where he also holds adjunct appointments in philosophy and psychology. In February 2017 he was named a UBC Distinguished University Scholar, recognizing distinction in research, teaching, and learning.

Slingerland’s talk is on “Creativity, Trust and the Paradox of Spontaneity,” which draws significantly from his 2014 book Trying not to Try: Ancient China, Modern Science and the Power of Spontaneity. It was named by The Guardian as a Best Book of 2014 and chosen by Brain Pickings as Best Book on Psychology/Philosophy for that year. His other books include Effortless Action: Wu-wei as Conceptual Metaphor and Spiritual Ideal in Early China (2003), What Science Offers the Humanities: Integrating Body & Culture (2008), and the co-edited volume Creating Consilience: Integrating the Sciences and the Humanities (2011).

With the paradox of wu-wei, Chinese thinkers anticipated aspects of modern neuroscience more than two millennia ago. Slingerland discusses wu-wei’s contemporary relevance to creativity, trust, virtue, and the future of human cooperation. Watch as he walks you through his fascinating, ambitious research about body & mind, science & instinct, and how historical knowledge can benefit our present and future in very practical ways.

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