Cognitive Semiotics Seminar: "Bodily Meaning, Artificial Intelligence, and the Experience of Wonder" (Prof. Jamin Pelkey, Toronto Metropolitan University)
In this seminar, given on a link from Toronto, Prof. Pelkey (or Jamin, less formally) will continue on a theme that we have discussed in the past: the discrepancy between true meaning, rooted in bodily experience, and the algorithms of AI systems. But dealt from Jamin's unique expertise in phenomenology, anthropology, cognitive poetics... in one (or two) words: cognitive semiotics. Clearly relevant for the theme of the conference we are organizing next summer, where Jamin will also be one of the keynote speakers: https://konferens.ht.lu.se/iacs-5/ Welcome to the link with cameras on, or to the usual H402!
Both the starting point and the end goal of cognitive linguistics are meaning-oriented -- pursuing questions about meaning in general and about the bodily, experiential basis of meaning in particular. In considering the relevance of cognitive linguistics for advances in "Artificial Intelligence", it might be easy to forget this point. We can already offload many varieties of work, thought, and even creativity to AI, but we will never be able to offload meaning. Meaningful experience is inescapable, unless meaning itself is lost -- e.g., unless our increasing reliance on AI erodes our ability to pay attention to lived bodily experience and erodes our ability to develop fresh understanding through this attention. In this lecture I focus on a complex mode of meaningful attention known as "wonder" by drawing on and developing theories of conceptual blending, cognitive poetics and cognitive foundations of grammar, I show how wonder is experienced phenomenologically, and can be better understood, by modeling extreme, simultaneous bodily oppositions related to the anatomical planes and axes of orientation intrinsic to upright posture. Drawing on vivid literary passages ranging from Li Bai to Edna St. Vincent Milay, I show how paying attention to simultaneous bodily reversals can be used to help account for the origins and grounding of complex blending and more importantly to rehabilitate and reorient our attention toward meaningful experience.