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COPYRIGHT: John Barnden, 1997.
This page of the databank may be freely copied for non-commercial
research/instructional use provided this copyright notice is included.
DESCRIPTION OF METAPHOR:
Mind as Physical Space
Under this metaphor, a person's mind is a physical region. Ideas,
thoughts, hopes, desires, images, emotions, feelings, etc., or events of
thinking, imagining, hoping, desiring, feeling, etc., can lie at various
positions in the region, and can move about within it (under their own steam or
as a result of being acted upon by other entities).
In many manifestations of the metaphor, particular regions of the region, such
as the front, back, sides, top, or depths, can have special significance.
In many other manifestations of the metaphor, no particular part of the region is
particularly significant. Instead, for instance, the relative positions of ideas
(etc.) may be significant: ideas may be portrayed as being ``far apart'' in the region.
OFTEN MIXED WITH:
Mind As Physical Space and Ideas as External Entities and are not
always easy to distinguish. If interested, please follow that link and see the
A complication is that the word ``mind'' is ambiguous as between meaning the
whole mind, including unconscious aspects, and meaning only the conscious mind. Both
cases are common.
- The metaphor has much in common with Mind as Container, where by
``Container'' I mean a physical object such as a box or room. (Some authors,
e.g. Lakoff, use the word to mean a bounded region of space, so that what they
call Mind as Container I regard as a special case of Mind as Physical Space.)
Therefore, Mind as Container is strictly speaking a special case of Mind as Physical Object. However,
examples of Mind as Container are currently included in the examples-page on
Mind as Physical Space. This is because what they convey is usually much more
similar to what is conveyed by Mind as Physical Space examples than by Mind as
Physical Object examples. That is, in most Mind as Container manifestations it
is the interior of the container that is most important, as opposed to the
containing substance (e.g. walls) of the container itself. However, the the
containing substance is often implicitly significant, in that the sentence can
mention actions such as someone ``putting'' and idea ``into'' someone's mind.
- In the Mind as Physical Space examples-page of the databank, I also include
sentences in which there is no explicit mention of the agent's mind but,
instead, the agent's head is portrayed as a container of mental entities,
themselves cast as physical objects. (The head is of course a real container,
but its real contents are the brain etc.) Example: ``ideas were floating around
inside his head.'' I tentatively suggest that in such examples there is an
implicit use of Mind as Physical Space, where the ``space'' in question is the
the metaphorical head-space. (NOTE: not the real interior of the head.)