The short book Neurobiology of Human Values was edited by J.-P. Changeux, A.R. Damasio, W. Singer and Y. Christen (all of whom are senior and influential neuroscientists) and comprises 12 essays, each composed for The Symposium by several contributors. Organized by the Foundation Ispen in Paris on January 24, 2005, The Symposium was one of the first events seeking to provide an overview of the neurobiology of human values.
Man has been contemplating the basis of his own ethical and aesthetic values for centuries. Many scientists and researchers have avoided this field of investigation; in the name of seeking an objective truth, it has been assumed that the scientific approach should naturally avoid normative truths such as feelings and consciousness. Until very recently, such a mindset has kept such issues in the hands of philosophers, moralists and theologists. It has even been said that the purpose of moral philosophy is to protect us from science. Before having taken this class, I must admit that I was of relatively the same mindset. However, the rise of neuroscience and other similar disciplines has thankfully made it so that a more objective and experimental approach to the issue of human values is available to us.