»As-if« – Figures of imagination, simulation, and transposition in the relation to the self, others, and the arts
»It is the impressions of our own senses only, not those of his, which our imaginations copy. By the imagination we place ourselves in his situation, we conceive ourselves enduring all the same torments, we enter as it were into his body, and become in some measure the same person with him, and thence form some idea of his sensations, and even feel something which, though weaker in degree, is not altogether unlike them.« (Adam Smith, 1759)
In the humanities, »as if« characterizes a traditional operation used in analogies, thought experiments, fiction, imagination, inner simulations, imitations, and re-enactments. In neuroscience, these »as if« operations have recently gained new attention. Here, stimulated by the discovery of mirror neurons, the subject has been (re)conceptualized as »inter-subjective« and cognition is being discussed as »embodied«. Within this context, »as if« operations are used to capture the difference between our own actions and feelings and the perceived actions and feelings of others, a difference that seems to be constitutive of self and body perception, our relationships to others, and our perception of aesthetic fiction.
The symposium explores the rich epistemological, semantic, and cultural knowledge of »as if« operations and related concepts (analogy, thought experiment, fiction, imagination, simulation, imitation, identification, mimicry) from the humanities. We will also look at its possible productive use in theories of inter-subjectivity and embodied knowledge in psychology, psychoanalysis, and neuroscience.
The organizers aim to establish a long-term dialogue between the humanities, social sciences, and neuroscience. For this purpose, the symposium will include experts from a wide range of disciplines, including philosophy, art theory, literary studies, media studies, psychoanalysis, psychology, and neuroscience.
Invited Speakers include Chiara Cappelletto (Milan), Francesco Casetti (Yale University), Pietro Conte (Milan), Maria Teresa Costa (Paris), Aikaterini Fotopoulou (London), David Freedberg (Columbia University), Thomas Fuchs (Heidelberg), Vittorio Gallese (Parma), Ernst-Johannes Haberl (Charité Berlin), Siri Hustvedt (New York), Marianne Leuzinger-Bohleber (Sigmund Freud Institute Frankfurt a.M.), Ludovica Lumer, Dr. (Milan), Spyros Papapetros (Princeton, NJ), Massimo Salgaro (Verona), Corrado Sinigaglia (Milan), Mark Solms (Cape Town), Antonio Somaini (Paris), Michela Summa (Heidelberg).
Due to limited capacity, the meeting is not open to the general public. For further information, please contact: Vanessa Lux: Email