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(Neuro)Phenomenology of Architecture

(Neuro)Phenomenology of Architecture

This working group will explore new directions in two disciplines -- philosophy and architecture -- around a shard topic of concern: human perception. Phenomenology has traditionally offered dependable ways of describing perception.  Recent advances in neuroscience have made possible a variety of experiments that rely on reports about experience.  Neurophenomenology, to use the term coined by Francisco Varela, adopts a philosophical-scientific approach to understanding perception, as involving not activity in the brain, but also embodied and embedded processes. This group will extend current neurophenomenological research by mobilizing scholars of architecture, a discipline which also grapples with embodied and embedded perception, albeit with a different set of objectives.  We hope to put the progressive force of neurophenomenology into productive collaboration with architecture's pragmatic insistence on real-world applicability; or conversely, to see whether recent experimental approaches to designing the worlds we inhabit can be put into productive collaboration with phenomenological description. Can neurophenomenological method and a radical understanding of architecture together destabilize old conceptions of the perceptual relationship between human and the environment?

Meeting will take the form of a presentation based on an precirculated reading, followed by discussion, with external guest speakers at some meetings. A conference on the topic is under development for winter 2013.


Matthew Allen, John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape & Design
Gabrielle Jackson, Andrew W. Mellon postdoctoral fellow in the Humanities, UTSC Philosophy


Mark Kingwell, Philosophy
Zeynep Alexander, John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape & Design
Evan Thompson, Philosophy
An Te Liu, John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape & Design


Erica Allen-Kim, Andrew W. Mellon postdoctoral fellow in the Humanities, UTSC Visual & Performing Arts
Note:  Three students from each of Philosophy and Architecture will be added in September 2012.


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