Tamar Gendler is the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Vincent J.Scully Professor of Philosophy, and Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science at Yale University. A field-shaping scholar, her academic research brings together the techniques of traditional Anglo-American philosophy with empirical work from neuroscience, psychology, and other social sciences. Both in the classroom and onstage, she is renowned for her ability to connect ancient philosophical texts to any modern issue in a way that is both precise and engaging. A champion debater and the daughter of a rabbi, her presentation style is warm, eloquent, and illuminating.
As an academic, Tamar’s research investigates the relation between imagination and belief, the contrast between rational and non-rational persuasion, and the role of habits in shaping behavior and judgment. Many of these issues are explored in her Open Yale course, Philosophy and the Science of Human Nature. Her prize-winning philosophical writings have appeared in leading academic journals such as the Journal of Philosophy, Mind, and The Philosophical Quarterly. She also has long standing interests in education policy and practice, having served in leadership roles at a range of universities and national organizations, and as an education policy analyst at the RAND Corporation.
Through an illustrious career spanning nearly three decades, Professor Gendler has garnered many remarkable achievements. Following a decade teaching at Syracuse and Cornell Universities, she returned to her alma mater, Yale, in 2006 as Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Cognitive Science Program. In 2009-10, supported by the Mellon Foundation’s New Directions program, she spent a year as a full-time student at Yale doing coursework in psychology, neuroscience, and statistics. In 2010, she was appointed Chair of theYale philosophy department, becoming the first woman chair in the department’s two-century history and the first woman graduate of Yale College to serve as the chair of a Yale department. In 2013, she was appointed Deputy Provost for Humanities and Initiatives, a position she held until she assumed her current role in 2014 as Yale’s inaugural Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS). As FAS Dean, Gendler has focused on building excellence and collaboration within and across traditional disciplinary boundaries. During her deanship, she has recruited some 400 new faculty to Yale in the humanities, social sciences, biological sciences, and physical sciences.
Tamar has held Fellowships from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship Program in the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies/Ryskamp Fellowship Program, the Collegium Budapest Institute for Advanced Studies, and the Mellon New Directions Program. In 2013, she was awarded the Yale College-Sidonie Miskimin Clauss ’75 Prize for Excellence in Teaching in the Humanities. She has served on boards or steering committees for the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine; the National Science Foundation; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Mellon Foundation; the Smithsonian Institution; the Kavli Foundation; the Tata Corporation; and numerous colleges and universities across the United States and internationally.
Tamar Gendler holds a BA summa cum laude with Distinction in Humanities and in Mathematics & Philosophy from Yale University and a PhD in Philosophy from Harvard University.
The Sociological Implications of Higher Education
With a background in education policy and a decade as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Yale, Tamar Gendler has a front row seat in observing and shaping the American education system. Throughout her tenure, she has taken note of the ways in which the U.S. higher education system is unique compared to its European and Asian counterparts and, through a sociologist’s lens, began to ponder how these differences impact society at large. What are the key economic, sociological, and organizational factors that differentiate the American higher-education system from that of other nations? What are the benefits and disadvantages of this unique system? How is our broader society affected by how our colleges and universities operate? What can be learned from higher education systems abroad? In this eye-opening and thought-provoking talk, Dean Gendler addresses all these issues and more, leaving you with a deeper understanding of the sociological implications of higher education.
The Five Ancient Secrets to Modern Flourishing
What does it take to be truly happy in the 21st century? One might say a big house, a nice car, and a hefty bank account, but the data disagree. In this talk, Professor Tamar Gendler looks to ancient philosophy and contemporary cognitive science to discover the secrets to authentic and lasting flourishing. She explores the works of Socrates on self-knowledge, Plato on self-harmony, Aristotle on habit, Cicero on friendship, and Epictetus on self-reliance, and presents modern research that supports these theories. Your audience will come away from this talk with an appreciation for the world’s ancient wisdom traditions, a sense of contemporary scientific work on happiness, and a deeper understanding of themselves and their fellow humans.
Philosophy and the Science of Human Nature
The great thinkers of our time and times past have long pondered the essence of human nature. What does it mean to be human? What are the natures of truth and knowledge? How should societies be structured to promote human flourishing? Thought-provoking theories to these questions, there are many—but how do they compare to what the science says? In this talk based on the esteemed Yale University course of the same name, Professor Tamar Gendler will traverse the rich tapestry of Western philosophical tradition, pairing influential works by Plato, Aristotle, Kant, and more, with recent findings in cognitive science and related fields. At this intersection of philosophy and science, you will unlock profound insights into fundamental aspects of the human experience and examine the conclusions each school of thought arrives to surrounding happiness and flourishing, morality and justice, and political legitimacy and social structures.
Ethics and AI: An Ancient Discussion
Tamar Gendler excels in her ability to apply concepts from traditional philosophical texts to any modern day issue. There are numerous unanswered questions about how the soaring prevalence of artificial intelligence will affect us all. Will these technologies leave millions of humans unemployed? Who is held accountable for the decisions made by AI systems? What happens if someone uses AI with malicious intent—or worse—what if these machines develop a propensity for evil all on their own? An exploration of these quandaries is especially enriched when viewed through the eyes of Plato, Aristotle, and other philosophers. In this talk, Professor Gendler masterfully interweaves today’s questions with yesterday’s answers, reminding us that while this technology is new, the ethical questions surrounding it are as old as time itself.
Conversations with Fascinating People
Not one to brag, but Tamar Gendler is impressively well connected. The innovators who inspire you? Those are colleagues and friends. Thought leaders in your field of interest? Old college pals. One of her favorite pastimes is engaging in wide-ranging conversations with these geniuses. You’ll be astounded how quickly and easily they open up in the presence of a good friend. The stage fades away and suddenly we’re transported into a cozy living room. A welcome departure from a standard lecture or a fireside chat with canned questions, Conversations with Fascinating People is like an invite to an exclusive dinner party where laughs are abundant, conversation flows freely, and you leave noticeably smarter than you arrived.