Category Archives: Me-in-the-world

Art and the Image: Insights from Merleau-Ponty and the Phenomenological Tradition

What is an image? What does an artist do when she creates one? Images are of things. However, there are different ways for one thing to be of another. Names, for example, are of their bearers. But images don’t seem to be of things in the same way that names are. Images are likenesses of their objects. Yet not just any likeness of an object will count as an image. An accidental likeness, such as a crack in the rock that resembles a crow, is not an image. Neither is an image an object that is qualitatively identical to another – a stamp bearing the Queen’s head is identical with another such stamp, but this does not make one an image of the other. Images instead translate their objects into different media (a portrait of the Queen translates this flesh and blood person into canvas and paint). An understanding of images requires a grasp of what it is for one object to translate another, and what is involved in this process of translation. This workshop takes Merleau-Ponty’s work on the image as the starting-point from which to explore these ideas.

Location: University of Nottingham (main campus)
Highfield House, room A11

Date and time: Wednesday 23rd October, 1—4.30pm

1—1.45 ‘Image: for the Eye and in Mind’ Komarine Romdenh-Romluc (Philosophy)

1.45—2.30 ‘Witness the Gift of Seeing’ Derek Hampson (Artist)

2.30—3 Break

3—3.45 ‘Mind the Gap: Architecture and the Image’ Jonathan Hale (Architecture)

3.45—4.30 ‘Living and Breathing the World’ Aimie Purser (Sociology)

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The Significance of Phenomenology

The Department of Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam, and the Netherlands Institute for Cultural Analysis are putting on a really interesting series of lectures and graduate seminars, which will culminate in a one-day workshop.

The project of phenomenology begun by Edmund Husserl in the early twentieth century continues to flourish and inspire new generations of philosophers. Phenomenology has been subject to powerful and important critiques from a variety of directions, but the rich analyses of intentionality, intersubjectivity, embodiment and being-in-the-world found in the writings of classical phenomenologists remain influential for a number of contemporary debates within philosophy, and strikingly also in neighbouring humanities and social science disciplines as well as in the medical sciences. The lecture series will comprise speakers from around Europe and from a variety of philosophical backgrounds either directly or indirectly engaged with phenomenology. We’ve asked them to reflect on what phenomenology means to them, and in what way phenomenology continues to be of vital significance both in philosophy and beyond today.

There is more information available from the website. I will be introducing the workshop. More details to follow.

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Image in Space

Faculty of Art and Design
Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic
10-12th April 2013

I will be presenting a paper at this conference on the theory of the image offered by Merleau-Ponty in his Eye and Mind.

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British Postgraduate Philosophy Association Annual Conference

The BPPA annual conference takes place at the University of Edinburgh from Monday 3rd – Thursday 6th September 2012. Tuesday 4th September will be dedicated exclusively to careers matters. I will be taking part in a panel on the challenges faced by early career philosophers, where I will talk on work-life balance. More information is available from the BPPA website.

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The World, Others, and I

Abstract of talk for the Oslo meeting of the Nordic Society for Phenomenology. I hope to have a draft of this paper up before too long.

Solipsism holds that the I is, in some sense, alone. Wittgenstein and Merleau-Ponty, hold that solipsism captures a deep truth about human subjectivity, which hinges on the idea that to be a subject is essentially to have a point of view. Wittgenstein argues that if the self is a perspective on the world, then it shrinks to a point without extension. One’s bodily and psychological life must be thought of as events in the world. There is no essential difference between my sadness and a hurricane. At the same time, to see the world from a perspective is to see it as laid out around one, implying that it is a solipsistic world: my world. I argue that Wittgenstein’s account perfectly characterises certain forms of schizophrenic experience, and so cannot be accepted as a faithful account of human experience in general. Merleau-Ponty’s account of solipsism reveals the flaw in Wittgenstein’s reasoning: he fails to acknowledge the importance of one’s own body. One’s perspective on the world is an embodied perspective; bodily interaction with the world gives one a sense that it can be viewed from elsewhere and is thus shareable; and the body’s existence is ‘anonymous’ in that it is able to occupy the bodily perspective of other embodied selves. There is thus a tension at the heart of human subjectivity – my own perspective is both privileged in that I always see the world from my own point of view, and not privileged insofar as my body can occupy the perspectives of others. This, for Merleau-Ponty, is the truth in solipsism: intersubjective experience is unstable. Schizophrenic experience illustrates how this delicate balance may be upset.

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Seeing-as and Novelty Conference – University of York

I’m really looking forward to this conference, which will be held at the University of York, on Monday 24th September 2012.

Seeing-as is a phenomenon of deep importance for several major areas of academic philosophy. It is of clear relevance to central issues concerning aesthetics, philosophy of language, philosophy of perception, and epistemology. As well as figuring in Wittgenstein’s work in particular – and analytic philosophy more generally – seeing-as is of central importance to phenomenological philosophy following in the traditions inaugurated by figures such as Husserl, Heidegger, and Merleau-Ponty.

The purpose of this conference is to explore how we should understand the relationship between our capacity for seeing-as, the determination of new concepts, and our capacity for using and extending the use of concepts in hitherto novel situations.

The speakers will be:

Michael Beaney (York)
Bill Childs (Oxford)
Robert Clark (York)
Naomi Eilan (Warwick)
Marie McGinn (UEA)
Komarine Romdenh-Romluc (Nottingham)
Rachael Wiseman (York)

Registration: £30 (waged), £15 (student)

**Registration in advance is not necessary, but preferred.**

Graduate Respondents:

Graduate students are invited to apply to respond to papers given by the above speakers. Please send a statement (of no more than a page) detailing your area of research and your interest in this conference to seeing[dot]as[dot]and[dot]novelty[at] In addition, there are a number of other bursaries available for graduate attendees which will primarily be awarded to unsuccessful applicants to be a respondent.

**The deadline for applications to be a respondent is July 8th 2012**

If you have any questions at all, or wish to register, please contact the organisers at seeing[dot]as[dot]and[dot]novelty[at]

The conference has made possible by the kind support of The Mind Association, The Aristotelian Society, and The Analysis Trust.

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Implicit Bias Network – Workshop

The excellent Implicit Bias Network has its second workshop coming up 20th-21st April 2012. This one considers the epistemological implications of implicit bias. There is more info at the project website.

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Nordic Society for Phenomenology Annual Conference, Oslo

I will be talking at this conference, which takes place at the University of Oslo, 7th – 9th June 2012.

The other keynote speakers are:
Frode Kjosavik (Norwegian University of Life Sciences)
Tetsuyo Kono (University of Tokyo)
Dermot Moran (University College Dublin)
Thomas Schwartz Wentzer (Aarhus University)

I’m hoping to present a paper about solipsism in Wittgenstein and Merleau-Ponty that I’m currently writing. It all depends on whether I manage to finish it on time! The conference webpage, which has instructions on how to submit papers is here.

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