"If this science, which will bring great benefits, does not help man to understand himself, it will end up turning against man", is the thought of Giordano Bruno, always faithful to the idea of a regenerating and saving science for humanity .
An ethics applied to reasoning and research that has always inspired the work of the pharmacologist Gian Luigi Gessa who receives the "Custos Civitatis" award on 26 June at the Cittadella dei Musei in Cagliari (initiative of the Archaeological Museum) .
Science is excellent training for the mind and the Professor, who is approaching 91 years of age, continues to seek answers to still unresolved questions, which mainly concern addictions, in the laboratories on the second floor of the Monserrato Department of Biomedical Sciences.
In recent years he has helped us to understand our potential and our weaknesses: "The purpose of science - writes Bertolt Brecht - is not so much to open the door to infinite knowledge, as to place a barrier to infinite ignorance".
Studies and researches
Gessa's investigations in the field of neuroscience, pharmacology, depression, alcoholism and drug addiction have outlined new horizons and projected Cagliari and Sardinia into an international dimension due to the value of his research. «I am happy for the recognition. I feel a particular joy when I am rewarded on my island. Do you think that I am also an honorary Mamuthone».
Now he becomes "guardian of the community", present, past and future intertwine: «I don't feel inappropriate for this honor. I discovered myself as an archaeologist. Archeology studies places of the past, materials and finds. I, on the other hand, study the mind according to different temporal planes: the present, the recent and the remote past. I'm basically an archaeologist of the mind."
Gian Luigi Gessa remembers a master. “His name is Charles Darwin, a great teacher. He taught us that the mind of animals is not so different from ours and can make us understand many things that also justify the nuraghes, the fruit of the archeology of the mind. In man's head there is something that was present millions of years ago. Today we have the possibility, by studying the minds of laboratory animals, to understand the mind of modern man». Then Sigmund Freud arrives: «He had begun to study cocaine. A pharmaceutical company told him: study it but try to talk about it in positive terms. Freud tried it and wrote in various works: I feel a euphoria, a happiness that I had already experienced. This question arises: how come a molecule that comes from outside produces an emotion identical to a sensation already felt? Here begins the history of neuroscience. We discovered that he was right: We have the same drugs in our brains that are used to make us enjoy or suffer, depending on the situation. Now it is possible to analyze man's desires and emotions with extraordinary means. The archeology of the mind has revealed all of this».
Together with Gian Luigi Gessa, the archaeologist Salvatore Settis, the writer Bianca Pitzorno and the master of launeddas Luigi Lai receive the honour : «Music produces emotions inside our brain. This doesn't happen in animal brains. Man has discovered, selected and used music, reading and other so-called virtual stimuli».
In addition to the desire to know more and more the boundaries of the mind, there is another goal: "I want to enter among the living monuments of Sardinia, the elite of centenarians, before entering that other place where there will be a bore mortal. I have to pass the exam to become a living monument».
In a few days he will be “Custos Civitatis”: «The role makes me very proud. I will go to the ceremony with a new jacket that I bought at Rinascente. I don't usually wear a jacket, but this is an important event. I refuse to wear a tie which I consider a punitive rite for men. I see that now women use it with great ease».