The conference series will explore the relationship between mind, language and metaphor from an interdisciplinary perspective. It will emphasise the importance of comparative work with data from many European languages, and build on a pre-existing network of European researchers. The first conference will explore the relationship between consciousness and the imagination. There are strong parallels between recent developments in consciousness research and theories of metaphor and the creative imagination. An exciting and provocative programme will explore these issues and traverse the science-art divide. Sessions will cover: the evolution of consciousness and imaginative processes; autism and other disorders characterised by an inability to understand figurative language; the interface between language and consciousness; and the wider implications of theories of the imagination.
Applications will be stressed throughout, but their future development will also be the subject of a discussion session. The invited speakers, who represent the best of European and world researchers in this field, include Susan Greenfield, Steven Mithen, George Lakoff and Ray Gibbs. The objective is to develop a new understanding of the relationship between consciousness and the imagination, to set the agenda for future Community research, and to lead to new cross-European collaborations. The second conference will develop ideas from the first, to concentrate on computational and neuropsychological approaches to metaphor and metonymy. These are areas in which new commercial and clinical applications can be developed. Overall, the objective of the conference series is to make the most of the newly reached critical mass of European researchers in this field, and to allow Europe to take the lead in research into the relationship between mind and language.
Post-publication of selected aspects of the programme is planned to ensure wide European dissemination of the results.