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Sensing Corporeally: Toward a Posthuman Understanding

University of Toronto Press
Place of Publication: 

In Sensing Corporeally, Floyd Merrell argues that human sensation and cognition should be thought of in terms of continually changing signs that can be accounted for in terms of topological forms.  Focusing on qualitative and analogical sensing, rather than quantitative and digital reasoning, Merrell begins by reflecting on the concept of consciousness as developed by neurologist Antonio Damasio, whose work in turn reflects Charles Peirce's conception of the sign.  By expanding Peirce's notion of the sign in light of Damasio's work, as well as that of Oliver Sacks and the Argentine fabulist Jorge Luis Borges, Merrell demonstrates the importance of the relationship between cognition, consciousness, and fantasy.  The philosophy of science espoused by Michael Polanyi, and the analytic and postanalytic philosophies of Donald Davidson, Nelson Goodman, Hilary Putnam, and Richard Rorty are also explored in light of what they bring to Peircean concepts of vagueness and generality, inconsistency and incompleteness, and abduction, induction, and deduction.  Merrell concludes by moving to the conceptual world of biologist Jakob von Uexküll and his Umwelttheory in order to complete his journey into the realm of 'posthuman' understanding, which is characterized by instinctive, tacit knowledge, continuity, and possibility.

Merrell aims to overcome linear, mechanical thinking by underlining the role of the body and, in turn, the role of feeling and sensing, in the development of cognitive processes.  Sensing Corporeally is thus a forceful and timely challenge to traditional models of human understanding. (Publisher)