Toronto Semiotic Circle Lecture Series
TSC Maclaren Lecture: Sense, Synaesthesia, and Our Inherently Expressive Bodies
Dr. Kym Maclaren
Department of Philosophy, Ryerson University
A certain colour of pink can reduce violent behaviour in a jail cell. Redness can lead to greater imprecision in our movements. Blueness can encourage repose. Under the influence of mescaline, a dog’s bark attracts light and reverberates in a person’s foot, a flute’s sound gives rise to blue-green colour, and an iron bar tapped makes the trees greener. Maurice Merleau-Ponty, French phenomenologist, argues that dominant accounts of sensation cannot explain these findings adequately because they separate meaning from sensation. In contrast, and in order better to understand these phenomena, Merleau-Ponty makes a case for a pre-conceptual form of meaning present in sensation: sensible phenomena, he claims, offer a sensorimotor meaning or “living signification,” and our expressive bodies elaborate these meanings, bringing them to expression as, for instance, the unique yellowness, sourness, and texture of a lemon. As so elaborated or expressed, sensibles are symbols that open up a world—while also being symbols indebted to our bodies. In this talk, I will lay out Merleau-Ponty’s line of thought, showing how it proposes to explain strange phenomena of sensation, and emphasizing the notion of expressive embodiment which it entails. Ultimately, I will propose that interpersonal recognition and creative thought are based in the same expressive embodied process that characterizes sensation.
A Bit About Me
Date & Time
Wed, 15 November 2017
5:00 PM – 6:30 PM EST
80 Gould St.
RCC 204 (Rogers Communications Centre)
Toronto, ON M5B 2M7