May 27, 2022

Noga Arikha

Harvard Book Store's virtual event series welcomes NOGA ARIKHA—philosopher, historian, and author of Passions and Tempers: A History of the Humours—for a discussion of her new book The Ceiling Outside: The Science and Experience of the Disrupted Mind. She will be joined in conversation by senior staff writer at Vice News SHAYLA LOVE.


A diabetic woman awakens from a coma having forgotten the last ten years of her life. A Haitian immigrant has nightmares that begin bleeding into his waking hours. A retired teacher loses the use of her right hand due to pain of no known origin.

Noga Arikha began studying these patients and their confounding symptoms in order to explore how our physical experiences inform our identities. Soon after she initiated her work, the question took on unexpected urgency, as Arikha’s own mother began to show signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

Weaving together stories of her subjects’ troubles and her mother’s decline, Arikha searches for some meaning in the science she has set out to study. The result is an unforgettable journey across the ever-shifting boundaries between ourselves and each other.

About Author(s)

Noga Arikha is a philosopher and historian of ideas. She works as a science humanist and is an Associate Fellow of the Warburg Institute (London), an Honorary Fellow of the Center for the Politics of Feelings, and a Research Associate at the Institut Jean Nicod of the Ecole Normale Supérieure (Paris). Her critically acclaimed first book, Passions and Tempers: A History of the Humours was a New York Times Review Editor’s Choice and one of the Washington Post Best Non-Fiction Books.

Shayla Love is a senior staff writer at Vice News, on Motherboard's features desk, where she writes about health, science, psychology, and psychedelics.