Ghost Touching. How the Imaginary Body of Cognition Makes Invisible Contact With People and Things

Lapaire Jean-Rémi
Language of the article : French
DOI: 10.3406/intel.2010.1188
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Language provides humans with an imaginary physiology of thought and social interaction which is reflected in a number of fixed form expressions. Scenes of perception, socio-physical contact and interpersonal manipulation are routinely evoked in which humans interact with other humans or objects. The interactions are set in fictive conceptual or social space. Thus language makes it possible for speakers-cognizers to touch or make (physical, mental, social) contact with people and things (real or imaginary, concrete or abstract). A corpus study of the socio-physical uses of touch in English, and its derived adjectival or participial forms, reveals the extent to which primary sensory-motor scenes have been recruited to code other scenes in the pragmatic and epistemic domains. Language plays a crucial role in this socio-cognitive process since it is the symbolic apparatus of language that shapes and controls the idealized (or imaginary) body of cognition (IBC) - the invisible body involved in a repertoire of ghost perceptions and motions (like sensing, seeing, grasping, going, moving, shifting, etc.). Fictive acts of touching are part of this repertoire. Here as elsewhere, the imaginary sensory-motor activity of the IBC follows the strict stage-directions layed out by language. The moves and attitudes typically involve the hands, fingers, eyes and feet. After a detailed examination of lexical expressions coding socio-physical contact, the discussion shifts to grammatical manifestations of this cognitive mechanism with special attention devoted to the performative contact principle, as revealed by the syntax of pidgin or child language (e.g. Me do it!). The article closes with a demonstration of how scenes of manipulation and touching can be acted out to make sense of language structure and functioning.

Pour citer cet article :

Lapaire Jean-Rémi (2010/1-2). Ghost Touching. How the Imaginary Body of Cognition Makes Invisible Contact With People and Things. In Steiner Pierre & Stewart John (Eds), Philosophy, Technology and Cognition, Intellectica, 53-54, (pp.331-358), DOI: 10.3406/intel.2010.1188.