Spectrums of thought in gesture : Using gestures to analyze concepts in philosophy

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-473
Journal / PublicationPragmatics and Cognition
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2019


This study examines the form and function of gestural depictions that develop over extended stretches of concept explanation by a philosopher. Building on Streeck’s (2009) explorations of depiction by gesture, we examine how this speaker’s process of exposition involves sequences of multimodal, analogical depiction by which the philosophical concepts are not only expressed through gesture forms, but also dynamically analyzed and construed through gestural activity. Drawing on perspectives of gesture as active meaning making (Müller 2014, 2016, Streeck 2009), we argue that the build-up of gestures in depiction sequences, activated through a multimodal metaphor (Müller & Cienki 2009), engages the wider philosophical standpoint of the speaker. Using video analysis supported by interview data, we demonstrate how examination of gestures within and across discourse can lead to understanding of how dynamic, embodied, and subjective processes of conceptualization contribute to philosophical theorizing.

Research Area(s)

  • conceptualization, gesture, construal, philosophy, depiction

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