The Ettore Majorana Foundation and Centre for
Scientific Culture (President: Prof. Antonino Zichichi)

The International School of Ethology
(Directors of the School: Prof. Danilo Mainardi, Prof. Stefano Parmigiani)

The Symbolic Animal

Evolution and Neuroethology of Aesthetics

October 15-19, 2016
Erice, Sicily, ITALY

Directors of the Workshop:
Leonida Fusani (Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology,University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna &
Department of Cognitive Biology, University of Vienna)
Vittorio Gallese (University of Parma & University of London)

Purpose of the Workshop

The overall purpose of the Workshop is to investigate the biological mechanisms that underlie symbol making and the perception and appreciation of beauty, from the attractive features of sexually selected traits to human figurative arts. Specifically, we aim to establish a discussion platform between scientists and scholars from different disciplines to address one of the most fascinating yet less understood phenomenon of the animal and human brain, that is, the preference for signals or manufacts that have particular configurational properties or obey to established canons. The workshop will be highly integrative, interdisciplinary, and comparative, including evolutionary biologists, ethologists, anthropologists, evolutionary psychologists, neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers. We encourage researchers, students, reporters, other professionals, and anyone interested in the theme of this Workshop to register. There will be opportunities for post-docs to present their research as well as for informal interaction and discussion among all speakers and other workshop participants. During the workshop, a one-day excursion to visit nearby Greek temples is scheduled for all participants.


Leonida Fusani

Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology,
University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna &
Department of Cognitive Biology,
University of Vienna, Austria

Vittorio Gallese

Università degli Studi di Parma, Italy &
University of London, United Kingdom

Anjan Chatterjee

University of Pennsylvania, USA

Michele Cometa

University of Palermo, Italy

Tecumseh Fitch

Universität Wien, Austria

Timothy Ingold

University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom

Marcos Nadal

Department of Psychology, University of the Balearic Islands,Spain

Telmo Pievani

Università degli Studi di Padova, Italy

Andrea Pinotti

Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy

Richard Prum

Yale University, USA

Carlo Severi

Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris, France

Gail Patricelli

University of California at Davis, USA

Helmut Leder

University of Vienna, Austria

Conference Info

Participation contribution is ALL-INCLUSIVE and covers not just lodging but all expenses, including registration for the conference, meals (participants will receive vouchers to eat in local restaurants), and transport to and from the airport (Trapani or Palermo) as well as a one-day trip to the Greek temples scheduled during the conference. This is an extraordinarily attractive “fee”.

Please visit the following links for further information

About Erice

Erice is a small town located on top of Mount Erice, at around 750 m above sea level, overlooking the city of Trapani, the low western coast toward Marsala, the dramatic Punta del Saraceno and Capo San Vito to the north-east, and the Aegadian Islands on Sicily's north-western coast, providing spectacular views. In the northeastern portion of the city there are the remains of ancient Elymian and Phoenician walls indicating different stages of settlement and occupation in antiquity. There are two castles that remain in the city: the Pepoli Castle, which dates from Saracen times, and the Venus Castle, dating from the Norman period, built on top of the ancient Temple of Venus, where Venus Ericina was worshipped. According to the legend, the temple was founded by Aeneas.

October is an excellent time of the year for visiting Sicily, as the weather is beautiful and there aren't as many tourists around as in July or August. The temperature in Erice is generally cooler than at sea level and thunderstorms are not unusual, even in the summer.

About the Ettore Majorana Center

The Ettore Majorana Foundation and International Centre for Scientific Culture is named after a well-known Italian physicist born in Sicily in 1906. The Centre consists of 118 Schools, representing all scientific disciplines. Every year, the Centre hosts hundreds of workshops with thousands of participants from all countries around the world. For more information about the EM Centre, please visit this website: