What forms can the inner life take? How is it shaped through specific forms of embodied practice? While one’s inner life need not be understood as separate from one’s body or  senses, and the ‘outer world’, certain experiences are strongly felt to be private and inaccessible to external observers. Even if the inner life is ultimately ‘illusory’ (as Merleau-Ponty reminds us), it remains personally meaningful for many.

Participants in this interdisciplinary workshop are invited to approach the inner life from either empirical or theoretical perspectives.

Particular questions to be addressed could include the following:

  • What are the particular experiences, skills and forms that furnish people’s inner worlds? These might include images, narratives, sensations, and their perceived sources or origins; but also how those are mediated, or framed, through skilled practices such as ritual, prayer, keeping diaries, growing plants, or hunting.
  • What can philosophical and neurological perspectives on the imagination contribute to our understanding of the experience of inner life?
  • What are the cultural, historical and social contexts that lead to the cultivation of particular forms of inner life? In which contexts or circumstances are thoughts and experiences understood in terms of interiority – and in which are they not?
  • Which embodied practices are seen as particularly effective conduits to thinking, feeling, or imagining?


This workshop is organized as a part of the AHRC funded project The Work of Art in Contemporary Japan: Inner and outer worlds of creativity.