Online ISItA conferences

Since 2021, the Italian Institute of Anthropology has been organizing online conferences annually on topics of interdisciplinary interest aimed at non-specialist audiences. The meetings will be freely available through an online platform, also in the form of video recording.


The program is being prepared. Four conferences will take place between September and November.


Four online conferences took place under the theme "Dialogues on Culture, Behavior and Ethics 150 Years After Charles Darwin's The Descent of Man".

Ethics and evolutionism: biology and philosophy of the moral sense

Eleonora Severini, Università di Pavia, Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici

11 december 2021, 12:00

link no yet available

How can the relationship between ethics and evolutionism be understood? We can start from the problems connected to this relationship and ask ourselves why it is so difficult to talk about ethics and evolutionism. At the basis of this difficulty there seem to be both historical and theoretical reasons. To address these issues, three theses are discussed: (1) ethics and evolution coincide; (2) ethics counteracts evolution; (3) ethics is disconnected from evolution. Starting from the difficulties encountered by the three theses, an alternative way of thinking about the relationship between ethics and evolution is proposed that is able, on the one hand, to include the environment within the reference evolutionary vision and, on the other hand, to place ethics in an ecological perspective.

Extended Mind and Cognitive Archeology

Emiliano Bruner, Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana, Burgos (España)

10 november 2021, 11:15


In recent years, evidence has increased in support of the hypothesis of cognitive extension, proposing that the mental process is not limited to the brain system but also actively involves the body and the environment (especially technology). The evolution of a "prosthetic capacity" that allowed the inclusion of instruments in the body and central nervous system schemes would therefore have been fundamental in human phylogeny. This process can also be analyzed through the archaeological register, using methods and techniques from neuropsychology and cognitive sciences.

Continuist Darwin, non-humans and cultural anthropology

Stefano Allovio, Università di Milano Statale

9 november 2021, 11:15


In "The Descent of Man", Darwin insistently claims the continuist paradigm, emphasizing the reasoning power of non-human animals, going so far as to link the dreams of dogs to the "non-human" possibilities of animism. Contemporary anthropology, increasingly attentive to the relationships between humans and non-humans, would not struggle to superimpose, for example, Darwin's considerations on the mental faculties of dogs with what can be found in refined ethnographies such as that of Eduardo Kohn on the runes of Peru. . Darwin and the Runas (who perhaps he could have defined "low savages") are much more similar than one might imagine: they think about what dogs think and they do it starting from a knowledge that feeds on close interspecific relationships.

Evolution of altruism

Telmo Pievani, Università di Padova

31 may 2021, 17:30

video available at link

The animal world offers us many examples of altruism, even in species that are evolutionarily distant from ours. This spread of altruistic behaviors may seem like a paradox, as natural selection favors traits that allow their carriers to survive and reproduce. How can altruistic behaviors override self-interest?

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