Berggruen Institute Announces Antonio Damasio as Chair of Jury for Berggruen Prize for Philosophy and Culture; Names Siri Hustvedt and Pratap Bhanu Mehta as Newest Members of the Berggruen Prize Jury

Rachel S. Bauch

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The Berggruen Institute today announced renowned thinker Antonio Damasio as Chair of its Berggruen Prize for Philosophy & Culture, the annual award established by philanthropist Nicolas Berggruen to recognize humanistic thinkers whose ideas have shaped society and provided wisdom in a rapidly transforming world. Antonio Damasio has served on the Berggruen Prize Jury since its inception and takes over for Kwame Anthony Appiah as Jury Chair. Appiah, the inaugural head of the Jury, led the international group comprised of former Nobel laureates, authors, and thinkers from 2016-2022.

The Berggruen Prize Jury recently named Peter Singer as its sixth winner in 2021, adding to a prestigious group of laureates including Paul Farmer (2020), former Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (2019), Martha Nussbaum (2018), Onora O’Neill (2017), and Charles Taylor (2016).

Antonio Damasio is an award-winning scholar, thinker, and author. Damasio is University Professor, David Dornsife Professor of Neuroscience, and Director of the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California. He has made seminal contributions to the understanding of brain processes underlying emotions, feelings, decision-making and consciousness and he is one of the most highly cited scientists in his field. Damasio has described his discoveries in several books: Descartes’ Error, The Feeling of What Happens, Looking for Spinoza, Self Comes to Mind, The Strange Order of Things and Feeling and Knowing. He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the recipient of major prizes, among them the Prince of Asturias Prize in Science and Technology, and the Honda and Grawemeyer prizes.

The Jury also welcomes two new members — Siri Hustvedt and Pratap Bhanu Mehta — as the newest jurors on the official selection committee for the Berggruen Prize for Philosophy & Culture. The award-winning thinker and novelist Siri Hustvedt will join Indian academician and political scientist Pratap Bhanu Mehta and the distinguished Berggruen Prize Jury as they deliberate and announce the 2022 winner for the Berggruen Prize for Philosophy and Culture later this fall. The Institute is currently accepting nominations through July for the Berggruen Prize, via the Institute’s online platform.

The Berggruen Prize Jury, now headed by Antonio Damasio, includes Kwame Anthony Appiah, Elif Shafak, David Chalmers, Yuk Hui, Wang Hui, Siri Hustvedt, and Pratap Bhanu.

Former members include Amy Gutmann, Alison Simmons, Amartya Sen, Leszek Borysiewicz, Michael Spence, and George Yeo. The winner of the 2022 Berggruen Prize will emerge from a selection of finalists and thinkers from diverse fields of research. The Berggruen Prize Jury welcomes nominations of thinkers whose ideas have both intellectual depth and long-term social and practical value across nations and cultures.


About the Berggruen Institute:

The Berggruen Institute’s mission is to develop foundational ideas and shape political, economic, and social institutions for the 21st century. Providing critical analysis using an outwardly expansive and purposeful network, we bring together some of the best minds and most authoritative voices from across cultural and political boundaries to explore fundamental questions of our time. Our objective is enduring impact on the progress and direction of societies around the world. To date, projects inaugurated at the Berggruen Institute have helped develop a youth jobs plan for Europe, fostered a more open and constructive dialogue between Chinese leadership and the West, strengthened the ballot initiative process in California, and launched Noema, a new publication that brings thought leaders from around the world together to share ideas. In addition, the Berggruen Prize, a $1 million award, is conferred annually by an independent jury to a thinker whose ideas are shaping human self-understanding to advance humankind.


composed by Arswain
machine learning consultation by Anna Tskhovrebov
commissioned by the Berggruen Institute
premiered at the Bradbury Building
downtown Los Angeles
april 22, 2022

Human perception of what sounds “beautiful” is necessarily biased and exclusive. If we are to truly expand our hearing apparatus, and thus our notion of beauty, we must not only shed preconceived sonic associations but also invite creative participation from beings non-human and non-living. We must also begin to cede creative control away from ourselves and toward such beings by encouraging them to exercise their own standards of beauty and collaborate with each other.

Movement I: Alarm Call
‘Alarm Call’ is a long-form composition and sound collage that juxtaposes, combines, and manipulates alarm calls from various human, non-human, and non-living beings. Evolutionary biologists understand the alarm call to be an altruistic behavior between species, who, by warning others of danger, place themselves by instinct in a broader system of belonging. The piece poses the question: how might we hear better to broaden and enhance our sense of belonging in the universe? Might we behave more altruistically if we better heed the calls of – and call out to – non-human beings?

Using granular synthesis, biofeedback, and algorithmic modulation, I fold the human alarm call – the siren – into non-human alarm calls, generating novel “inter-being” sonic collaborations with increasing sophistication and complexity. 

Movement II: A.I.-Truism
A synthesizer piece co-written with an AI in the style of Vangelis’s Blade Runner score, to pay homage to the space of the Bradbury Building.

Movement III: Alarmism
A machine learning model “learns” A.I.Truism and recreates Alarm Call, generating an original fusion of the two.

Movement IV: A.I. Call
A machine learning model “learns” Alarm Call and recreates A.I.Truism, generating an original fusion of the two.