[SydPhil] A Gricean Proposal for Communication by Bodily Adornment: Sydney Uni Thursday 19 Nov

Kristie Miller kristie_miller at yahoo.com
Sun Nov 15 10:29:35 AEDT 2015

Dear all,

Our final Current Projects seminar for this year will be this Thursday at 3.00 in the Muniment room. 

Marilynn Johnson will be presenting:

Systems of Dress: A Gricean Proposal for Communication by Bodily Adornment

ABSTRACT: One of the purposes our bodies serve is as a surface on which we place adornments that convey certain meanings to those around us, such as, ‘I am a police officer’, ‘I am the queen’, and ‘I protest the war in Vietnam’. In this talk I will argue that communication through adornment of the body is best understood as a branch of philosophy of language, and, in particular, within a Gricean theory of meaning. This argument begins with discussion of a previous study of meaning in bodily adornment undertaken by Roland Barthes working in the Saussurean, semiotic tradition. I argue that Barthes’ attempt fails for the same reason many theories of linguistic meaning failed: they treat meaning as the result of a system of codes – an assumption that leads to theories that can never fully explain communication. I take Barthes’ attempt as an indication that dress should be treated instead as a fundamentally Gricean, intentional process, with meaning first delineated into Grice’s categories of natural, and non-natural meaning, as well as a new category I will introduce: ‘imitation of natural meaning’. I present specific cases to show how these categories apply to meaning in dress. In the course of this argument I will defend the Gricean picture that ties meaning to intentions from a number of objections. 

Associate Professor Kristie Miller
Senior ARC Research Fellow
Joint Director, the Centre for Time
School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry and
The Centre for Time
The University of Sydney
Sydney Australia
Room 407, A 14

kmiller at usyd.edu.au
kristie_miller at yahoo.com
Ph: +612 9036 9663

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