Listed here are videos and podcasts of various talks I have given, with a little bit of contextual information for each. The first few talks are specifically on the topic of Joint Speech.

Joint Speech

Language as a problem

This video addresses the role of Linguistics, as a science, and makes the point that the way it construes “language” is deeply problematical. The argument is taken from a recent publication, which fleshes out the argument and embellishes it with anecdote: Source article: Cummins, F. (2021). Language as a problem. Language Sciences, 88, 101433.

An enactive view of audition

Keynote address given to the Conference on Interdisciplinary Musicology, which took embodiment as its theme.

Embodied and enactive theories of cognition bring concepts from general systems theory to bear in interpreting the way that bodies interact with their surrounds. This allows a radical reconceptualisation of the manner in which the lifeworld arises. Framing such activity as sense-making, rather than the construction of perceptual representations, allows us to highlight the reciprocal nature of our dance with the world. Three distinguished modes of sensemaking will be considered, beginning with touch, which provides the prototype for understanding this dance. The physiological basis for touch makes the reciprocity manifest, and emphasises the whole body. Extending this framing to vision reveals vision too to be a mode of active interaction with the world, but its anchoring in the body is, in an important sense, more distributed, less immediately stamped by the structures of the body.  Audition presents puzzles here, as the reciprocity in auditory sensemaking is less evident yet. However I will argue that in music making, the reciprocity is suddenly made very clear, allowing collective sensemaking. This potential for collective construction of the lifeworld is evident in the role of many collective practices including rituals of all kinds, and provides a window into the generation of the human lifeworld for which, in many accounts, language is often held accountable.

Voice and Gaze Considered Together in Languaging

An invited talk to a conference on The Inhuman Gaze held in Paris, June 2018. In which I argue that language conceived of as the passing of encoded messages does not begin to explain the radical transformation of our species from ape to human.

Can I get an amen? Joint speech, dialogical sense-making, and Logos

A keynote address to the Language and Enaction conference held in Claremont Ferrand in June 2016. Here I introduce the topic of joint speech, and I elaborate upon the call-and-response structures found in practices of prayer and protest. The “Amen” of the title refers to the role that a statement of general assent (amen, but also “right on!) plays in allowing many individuals to participate in the voicing of complex and highly nuanced texts. The talk is about 34 minutes long.

The subject of joint speech

A 20 minute (roughly) talk and ensuing online discussion with Matthew Egbert and Marek McGann (and Erik Rietveld in abstentia). Part of the ENSO seminar series. This talk was on May 19th, 2016.

We speak, therefore we are . . .

A short (13 min) TEDx talk in which I introduce my topic of Joint Speech, and ask why is there so little scientific study of this remarkable behaviour?

Joint Speech, and why it merits study

A longer talk (an hour or so) given to an audience of psychologists, that tries to point to the reasons to study joint speech, and some of the things to be found there.

Prayer and Protest: Voices Reconsidered

An introduction to the rich phenomenon of joint speech, where many people say the same thing at the same time.  In this talk, I try to justify my interest in prayer, chant, and such to a crowd of computer scientists.  Talk given to the Complex and Adaptive Systems Laboratory, University College Dublin, in February, 2014.

Talks on epistemology

Of late, I have developed a strong interest in epistemological matters and the work of George Spencer-Brown, whose 1969 book Laws of Form provides wonderful food for thought.

In 2022, I presented a talk on the origin of everything:

And in 2019 I presented a talk at the conference to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the publication of Laws of Form. The talk concerns joint speech and the dialogical nature of logic. My contribution is from 10’19” to 17’40”

Talks on other topics

What’s next for Embodied Cognitive Science: On Body and Soul

Prepared as a contribution to the What’s Next colloquium. The fearsome brief for this meeting is given below. This is my response, which interrogates the role of Embodied Cognitive Science in scaffolding the ethical development of science as the core concepts of Nature, Society, Culture and the Sovereign become fluid.

Who put the bom in the bom-di-bom-bom: a talk on speech rhythm

This talk was given to the Illinois Linguistics Society in 2011, on the topic of rhythm in speech.

The Folly of the Engram: Considering Individual and Collective Memory

This was a talk given within the Irish Memory Studies Network distinguished lecture series on the theme of Methodologies of Memory at the Humanities Institute of Ireland, in University College Dublin. This is a podcast with added slides.

Computers and Brains: The Genesis of a Powerful Metaphor

How the brain came to be viewed as a computer.  A rough and ready recording of a lecture in the School of Computer Science and Informatics, University College Dublin. Jan 30th, 2015.  Two strands are traced, the first from the origin of Boolean algebra to the birth of the modern computer, the second from the neuron doctrine that emerged at the start of the 20th century.  Both strands meet in the persona of Warren McCulloch.