Kieran Quill – The nonverbal world

Date(s) - 03/07/2022
12:30 pm - 2:00 pm

The Duke of Battersea

We meet in The Duke of Battersea, but this meeting will also be on Zoom see SLPC Zoom Meeting

Reality – or “nature,” or “the universe” – does not speak to us. It is radically non-verbal in its “communications” with us.

In physics terminology, “things” “communicate” with other “things” by means of an ever-shifting kaleidoscope of atomic and molecular correlations. A special case of correlation is what we call “subjective experience”, for example, the “redness” of red things; the “sweetness” of sweet things; the “painfulness” of a pain, the haptic feel of a surface, and even more generally the “what-it-is -likeness” of being conscious, or aware, or awake.


A vast philosophical literature (a whole academic and publishing industry) now exists on the subject of “consciousness” (“qualia” being the term of art – “qualitative experience”), especially human linguistically-informed consciousness – with views ranging from radical dualism of physical body and non-physical mind (or soul), to radical “eliminativism” (“consciousness” is an illusion). As an example of the latter: Daniel Dennett: “There seems to be phenomenology…But it does not follow from this undeniable, universally attested fact that there really is phenomenology. That is the crux.”

Something must be going awry here! Perhaps thinking about the non-verbal world can help. One could describe being conscious as “the state or condition of being aware – aware apart from the effects of influence of words” (from: The Center for Nonverbal Studies, Spokane, Washington)

William James called the nonverbal realm a “blooming, buzzing confusion” such as that he thought applied to the experiences of a pre-verbal infant (or animals all their lives). Kant wrote that “intuitions without concepts are blind.”


In this talk, Kieran Quill will explore the topic – verbally! In the meanwhile, you can experiment nonverbally yourself. Try, for example, watching TV with the sounded turned off

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *