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Academic Interests

John Vervaeke’s academic interests include wisdom, mindfulness, meditation, relevance realization, general intelligence, rationality.

Current Courses

John Vervaeke is currently teaching these courses in the Cognitive Science, Psychology, and Buddhism, Psychology & Mental health programs:

  • COG250Y (Introduction to Cognitive Science),
  • NEW333H (Cognitive Science and Buddhism),
  • NEW331H (The Science of Mindfulness),
  • PSY370 (Thinking and Reasoning),
  • PSY371 (Higher-Cognitive Processes — on the psychology of wisdom),
  • and the flagship course of the Buddhism, Psychology and Mental Health program-NEW432H (Cultivating Consciousness).

Areas of Specialty

Cognitive Science, Cognitive Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Positive Psychology

Areas of Competence

Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Science, History of Philosophy, Epistemology

Education

PhD 1997 University of Toronto, Philosophy
Thesis: The Naturalistic Imperative in Cognitive Science
BSc 1991 University of Toronto, Specialist in Cognitive Science
MA 1985 University of Toronto, Philosophy
HBA 1984 McMaster University, Philosophy, Summa Cum Laude

Teaching Awards and Nominations

2012 Ranjini Ghosh Excellence in Teaching Award.
2006 Nominated for the Prime Minister’s Best Teacher Award
2006 Nominated for Best Lecturer in Ontario, TVOntario Big Ideas
2005 Psychology Department Teaching Award, University of Toronto
2001 Students’ Administrative Council and Association of Part-time Undergraduate Students Teaching Award

Current Research Projects

  1. In-keeping with my dedication toward uncovering a naturalistic explanation of cognition, an ongoing project of mine is that of exploring the issue of how a physical entity is capable of realizing relevance (i.e. Dennett’s characterization of ‘the Frame Problem’).  My 2012 publication offers a comprehensive overview of my account of this process. I am currently applying my framework for addressing this problem to a new theory about the nature of consciousness.
  2. My on-going research on the psychology of wisdom has become the heart of the new Buddhism, Psychology and Mental Health program at the University of Toronto.  Currently I am engaging in an interdisciplinary (psychology, philosophy, neuroscience) exploration of the science of mindfulness meditation.
  3. I have just finished a chapter on the cognitive science of wisdom that has been published in the anthology The Scientific Study of Personal Wisdom.
  4. I am currently finishing a paper on a cognitive scientific account of consciousness in terms of scale invariant mutual modeling.
  5. I am currently finishing a paper on a cognitive scientific account of flow that is ready for submission.
  6. I am currently working of a book, entitled Science and the Sage  that is on how to respond to the meaning crisis with the cognitive science of wisdom and deep connection.

Publications

2013:

John Vervaeke and Leo Ferraro, ‘Relevance Realization on the Neurodynamics and Neuroconnectivity of General Intelligence’ in SmartData: Privacy Meets Evolutionary Robotics. Springer. March 2013.

2012:

John Vervaeke and Leo Ferraro, ‘Relevance, Meaning, and the Cognitive Science of Wisdom’ in in Michel Ferrari and Nic Westrate (ed) The Scientific Study of Personal Wisdom: From Contemplative Traditions to Neuroscience.

John Vervaeke, Timothy Lillicrap and Blake Richards, ‘Relevance Realization and the Emerging Framework in Cognitive Science’ Journal of Logic and Computation, 22, (1) Special Issue: Relevance: Philosophical and Logical Issues. First published online 2009.

2008:

John Kennedy and John Vervaeke, ‘How Does the Body Ground Mind? Margaret Wilson, Internalization and Metaphor’ Festschrift: Essays in honour of Dunja Jutroni, University of Malibor

2004:

John Vervaeke and John Kennedy, ‘Conceptual Metaphor and Abstract Thought’. Metaphor and Symbol, Vol. 14, no.3, pages 213-231.

1997:

Chris Green and John Vervaeke, ‘But What Have You Done for us Lately? Some Recent Perspectives on Linguistic Nativism. In D. Johnson, and C. Erneling (eds) The Future of the Cognitive Revolution

John Vervaeke and Chris Green, ‘Women, Fire and Dangerous Theories: A critique of Lakeoff’s theory of categorization’, Metaphor and Symbol, Vol 12, no. 1, pages 59-80.

Chris Green and John Vervaeke, ‘The Experience of Objects and the Objects of Experience’, Metaphor and Symbol, Vol 12, no. 1, pages 3-17.

Dan Chiappe and John Vervaeke, ‘Fodor, Cherniak, and the Naturalization of Rationality’, Theory and Psychology, Vol 7, no. 6, pages 799-821.

1996:

Chris Green and John Vervaeke, ‘What Kind of Explanation, if any, is a Connectionist Net?’, in C. Tolman, F. Cherry, R. Hezewijk, and I. Lubeck (eds.), Problems of Theoretical Psychology.

John Vervaeke and John Kennedy, ‘Metaphors in Language and Thought: Falsifications and Multiple Meanings’, Metaphor and Symbolic Activity, Vol 11, no.4, pages 273-284.

1993:

John Kennedy and John Vervaeke, ‘Metaphor and Knowledge Attained via the Body’, Philosophical Psychology, vol. 6, no. 4, pages 407-412.

John Kennedy, Chris Green and John Vervaeke, ‘Metaphoric Thought and Devices in Pictures’, Metaphor and Symbolic Activity, vol. 8, pages 243-255.

1991:

John Kennedy and John Vervaeke, Review for Canadian Journal of Literature of More than Cool Reason: A field-guide to metaphor by George Lakeoff and Mark Turner

Presentations to Learned Societies

Invited:

John Vervaeke, “Eros into Agape, and the Core of Buddhist Training” to Mind Matters III: Desire and Entanglement for the University of Toronto’s Jungian Society and Buddhism and Psychology Student Union. February 9th, 2013

John Vervaeke, Keynote speaker, “ The Cognitive Processes with Mindfulness Practices” to the Hypnosis: The Mind, the Body, and Words, for the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. October 14, 2012, Toronto.

John Vervaeke, Keynote speaker, “ The practice of science and the cultivation of personal wisdom: can we renew Aristotle’s vision” to The Wise Scientist: Historical and Philosophical Reflections on the Place of Wisdom in Science Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science, University of Toronto, Graduate Conference at the University of Toronto, June 2, 2012

John Vervaeke “Relevance Realization and the Neurodynamics of Intelligence of Intelligence” to IPSI SmartData International Symposium at the University of Toronto May 14, 2012

John Vervaeke ‘The scientific study of mindfulness practices’ to Mindful of Change: Staying Present for the Future at George Brown College February 29, 2012.

John Vervaeke ‘ Wisdom as rationally self-transcending rationality that enhances relevance realization’ to Mind Matters Two: New Perspectives on the Psychology of Wisdom at the University of Toronto, February 18, 2012

John Vervaeke, Key Note Speaker, ‘A cognitive scientific and completely naturalistic theory of the chi phenomenon in martial arts’ to Performing Philosophy Symposium at the University of Toronto, October 23rd 2011.

John Vervaeke, ‘ The intersection between ancient philosophy and modern cognitive science in the study of wisdom’ to Where can wisdom be found? Interdisciplinary discussion on evidence for wisdom’ at the University of Toronto, April 9th 2011.

John Vervaeke, ‘ Salience Dysregulation and the continuum between foolishness and pathology’ to Mind Matters: towards and new understanding of psychopathology at the University of Toronto, March 19th, 2011

John Vervaeke, “Mindfulness and the cognitive science of wisdom” to Mindfulness and Psychotherpay: Deepening our theory and practice at the University of Toronto, May 1st, 2010.

John Vervaeke, ‘Three Visions of the Nature of Cognitive Science’ to University of Toronto Interdisciplinary Symposium on the Mind: The place of emotions in the cognitive sciences at the University of Toronto, April 18th 2010.

John Vervaeke, ‘The Possibility of a Secular Spirituality and its Connections to Cognitive Science and Neuroscience’, at the Centre for Inquiry at the University of Toronto, December 11th, 2009.

John Vervaeke, ‘Pure Consciousness and the Purely Procedural Proto-self’, Buddhism, Psychology and Mental Health Student Association’s Symposium on the Self, November 20th, 2009.

John Vervaeke, ‘The Foundations of Mindfulness: A Micro and Macro Reconceptualization’, University of Toronto Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence Student Association’s Buddhism, Brains and Behaviour, March 21st, 2009.

John Vervaeke, ‘Faith, Education, and The Meaning of Life: Relevance, wisdom and compassion’ at The Veritas Forum at the University of Toronto, March 13th, 2009.

John Vervaeke, ‘Contemplative Practice and Wisdom in Buddhism and Cognitive Science’ at an event celebrating 500 years Charles de Bovelles’ book of the Wise Man at the University of Toronto, 2009.

John Vervaeke, ‘Increasing Teacher Effectiveness: What can teachers do to improve problem solving?’ to the Rotman Centre at the University of Toronto, 2005.

Accepted:

John Vervaeke, ‘Mindfulness and the Cognitive Science of Wisdom’. Presentation to Mindfulness and Psychotherapy: Deepening our Theory and Practice. A symposium hosted by the Centre for Diversity in Counselling and Psychotherapy, Departement of Adult Education and Counselling Psychology at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, May 1st, 2010.

John Vervaeke, Zachary Irving, and Leo Ferraro. ‘Relevance Realization: An emerging framework of intelligence’. Presentation to the University of Toronto Metapsychology group, April 20th & May 18th, 2010.

Zachary Irving and John Vervaeke, ‘More Appropriate Plasticity: A rigorously embedded account for intelligence’ at to University of Toronto’s Interdisciplinary Symposium on the Mind, 2008.

John Vervaeke, ‘Humans as Endangered Species: will machines make us obsolete?’ at Café Scientifique, Toronto, Ontario, 2007.

Chris Green and John Vervaeke, ‘Fusion, Protolanguage and Pictures’ at the American Psychological Association’s annual conference, Toronto Ontario, 1996.

John Vervaeke, ‘Deconstruction and the Psychology of Concept’ at the American Psychological Association’s annual conference, New York NY, 1995.

John Vervaeke and Chris Green, ‘Connectionism and its Discontents: Of eliminativism and cognitive explanation’ at the American Psychological Association’s annual conference, New York NY, 1995.

Chris Green and John Vervaeke, ‘Mental Causation, Psychological Explanation and Connectionism’, at the International Society for Theoretical Psychology, Ottawa Ontario, 1995.

John Vervaeke, ‘The Eternal Return of the Same Problem of the Other: A deconstructionist approach to the history of psychology at the International Society for the History of Behavioural and Social Sciences, 1994.

John Vervaeke and Chris Green, ‘Thinking Metaphorically: A critique of Lakeoff and Johnson’ to the Toronto Semiotics Circle, Toronto Ontario, 1993.

John Vervaeke, Chris Green and John Kennedy, ‘Women, Fire and Dangerous Theories’, at the Canadian Psychological Association, Montreal Quebec, 1993.

John Vervaeke and Chris Green, ‘Pictoral Metaphor’ at the American Psychological Association, Washington DC, 1992.

University-level Teaching Experience (1994-current)

Instructor: ‘Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind’ (2013) York University.
Instructor: ‘The Philosophy of Psychology’ (2012) York University
Instructor: ‘Cultivating Consciousness’ (2012), University of Toronto
Instructor: ‘Advanced Cognitive Science: Consciousness’ (2010 Jan-April & Sept.-Dec Sept-Dec. 2012.), University of Toronto
Instructor: ‘The Science of Mindfulness Meditation’ (2009-current), University of Toronto
Instructor: ‘Bases of Cognition: the nature of rationality’ (2009), University of Toronto
Instructor: ‘Theoretical Psychology’ (2008-2009), University of Toronto
Instructor: ‘Developmental Psychology’ (2008-2012), Psychology Dept., University of Toronto
Instructor: ‘Learning and Plasticity’ (2008-2010), Psychology Dept., University of Toronto
Instructor: ‘Cognitive Development’ (2007-2009), Psychology Dept., University of Toronto
Instructor: ‘Buddhism and Cognitive Science’ (2007-current), University of Toronto
Instructor: ‘Higher Cognitive Processes’ (2005-current), Psychology Dept., University of Toronto
Instructor: ‘Cognition and Representation’ (2003), University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus
Instructor: ‘Fundamental Issues in Cognitive Science’ (2003), University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus
Instructor: ‘Theoretical Psychology’ (2002), University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus
Instructor: ‘Psycholinguistics’ (2000), Psychology & Linguistics Dept., University of Toronto
Instructor: ‘Thinking and Reasoning’ (1999-current), Psychology Dept., University of Toronto
Instructor: ‘Introduction to Cognitive Science’ (1994-2004, 2005-current) University of Toronto

Curriculum Development and Administrative Experience

Associate Director: Cognitive Science Program (2005-2007), University of Toronto
Academic Chair: The Dragon Acadamy (2002-2008), Toronto, Ontario

Scholarships, Research Grants, Awards

1996-97 Ontario Graduate Scholarship
1995-96 Ontario Graduate Scholarship
1994-95 Ontario Graduate Scholarship
1993-94 Ontario Graduate Scholarship
1992-93 Ontario Graduate Scholarship
1992-92 Open Doctoral Fellowship, University of Toronto
1991 Graduation Prize in Life Sciences, University of Toronto

Here’s what his students have to say about him. The ASSU Anti-Calendar (which provides ratings for Arts & Science courses at the University of Toronto) is also available here. You can have a look at John’s award-winning teaching style on the videos page. You can contact him on the contact page.

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