BSP Podcast: Giovanna Colombetti – ‘Varieties of incorporation’

podcast update

This episode of the BSP Podcast sees Giovanna Colombetti presenting a paper from our 2022 annual conference, ‘Engaged Phenomenology II’.

Season 6 episode 133: 7 May 2024

Season 6 continues with another keynote presentation from our 2022 annual conference, Engaged Phenomenology II: Explorations of Embodiment, Emotions, and Spatiality.

Listen to this episode on the BSP’s Podbean site

You can also find this episode on all good podcasting apps by searching ‘BSP Podcast’.

Giovanna Colombetti
‘Varieties of incorporation: beyond the blind man’s cane’

In post-phenomenology and other disciplines, “incorporation” refers to the assimilation or integration of tools into the body. In Phenomenology of Perception, Merleau-Ponty had already discussed examples of tool-incorporation—including, famously, the example of the blind man and his cane. Merleau-Ponty’s analysis refers to what he called the “body schema”: our prereflective awareness of ourselves in terms of what we can do and perceive in the world. Subsequent discussions of incorporation have similarly focused on the integration of tools into the tacit (or even unconscious and sub-personal) sensorimotor body. In my talk I want to draw attention to the fact that we can incorporate tools in other ways, too, because we experience ourselves not just as tacit sensorimotor bodies. First, we can also incorporate tools into the so-called “body image”—the experience of our body as an intentional object of awareness, which can itself be distinguished into various (sub)experiences. Second, we can incorporate tools into our “lived seen body”—our sense of how we appear to others. I will illustrate these distinctions with examples and empirical evidence, and conclude with some reflections about the relationship between experiences of incorporation and the much discussed notion of the “extended mind”.

Biography: Giovanna Colombetti is Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Social and Political Sciences, Philosophy, and Anthropology of the University of Exeter (UK). She was educated in Italy and the UK, and after receiving her PhD from the University of Sussex in 2004, she was a postdoctoral researcher at the universities of York (Canada), Trento (Italy), and Harvard. Since 2007 she has worked and lived in Exeter, temporarily visiting various research centres in Europe, Asia, and Australia. At Exeter she is also member of EGENIS (The Centre for the Study of the Life Sciences), where she leads the Mind, Body, and Culture research cluster. She is further affiliated with the University of Southern Denmark, where since 2021 she has been Adjunct Professor in Philosophy at the Faculty of Health Sciences, and collaborates with its research cluster on Movement, Culture, and Society. She is also Associate Editor of Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences. Her primary research interests lie at the intersection of philosophy of cognitive science (especially embodied and situated cognition), philosophy of emotion, phenomenology, and material culture studies. She has worked the notions of emotion and affectivity, and on their relation to theories of cognition, embodiment, enaction, and extended mind. She is the author of several articles and book chapters in which she argues that, from an embodied-enactive perspective, cognition and emotion are not separate mental faculties, and rather emotion is a primordial and all-pervasive dimension of the mind. In 2010-2014 she was Principal Investigator of a Starting Grant funded by the European Research Council, titled “Emoting the Embodied Mind”, during which she wrote her monograph The Feeling Body: Affective Science Meets the Enactive Mind (MIT Press, 2014). Since then, she has worked mainly on the notion of “situated affectivity” and is currently writing a second monograph on how we use objects to influence our affective life.

Further Information:

This recording is taken from our Annual UK Conference 2022: Engaged Phenomenology II: Explorations of Embodiment, Emotions, and Sociality (Exeter, UK / Hybrid) with the University of Exeter. Sponsored by the Wellcome Centre, Egenis, and the Shame and Medicine project. For the conference our speakers either presented in person at Exeter or remotely to people online and in-room, and the podcast episodes are recorded from the live broadcast feeds.

The British Society for Phenomenology is a not-for-profit organisation set up with the intention of promoting research and awareness in the field of Phenomenology and other cognate arms of philosophical thought. Currently, the society accomplishes these aims through its journal, events, and podcast. Why not find out more, join the society, and subscribe to our journal the JBSP?