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The Adventure of Discovery - Auckland

What does discovery mean in the humanities, in art and in thought? How does it relate to, draw on or feed into discovery in the sciences?

Nau mai haere mai ki tēnei kaupapa.

For the 2020 Rutherford Lecture, Distinguished Professor Brian Boyd FRSNZ will explore how humanities are sciences and sciences are humanities.

He will focus on both Vladimir Nabokov, thought by some to be the greatest writer of the twentieth century, and Karl Popper, thought by others to be the most fertile thinker of the century. Both were passionate about science and contributed to it at high levels, and both saw knowledge of all kinds as an adventure of endless discovery.

Brian will also consider how evolution, without which we cannot explain life on earth, including social life, and culture, may help explain art, thought, and discovery.

Light kai and wai will be available before and after the lecture.

More on the speaker

Brian was awarded the 2020 Rutherford Medal by Royal Society Te Apārangi for his world-leading scholarship on literature

Brian has been recognised for a third of century as the “the foremost authority on Nabokov”. He is also a leader in linking literature and the arts with evolutionary theory and in exploring relations between the arts, humanities and sciences.

He has been working for a very long time on the authorised biography of Popper, whenever the momentum of his other work doesn’t tug him in other directions. The Popper biography by itself seems a task of endless discovery, and has a special local interest, since Popper wrote, while in Christchurch, what Michael King has called the most important book to come out of New Zealand, The Open Society and Its Enemies. Popper’s impact on the University of Canterbury, its official history writes, “was greater than that of any other person, before or since”; and he forced the research door open not only at Canterbury but at other New Zealand universities, not least for the Nobel Prize-winning neuroscience of Jack Eccles at Otago.

Supported by the New Zealand Government with funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. Nā Te Hīkina Whakatutuki te mana hāpai.

Ngā mihi nui. Hei konā mai.


Royal Society Te Apārangi


Owen G Glenn Building, University of Auckland, Business School, Lecture Theatre 260-098, 12 Grafton Road, Auckland, Auckland, 1010

6:00pm Thu 12 August, 2021 - 7:30pm Thu 12 August, 2021