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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.


Cognizing as Seeing

Under this metaphor, thinking, believing, understanding, or other cognitive activities/states are portrayed as seeing (or ability to see).

This is an extremely common metaphor, and is manifested most simply and palely in phrases like ``see that [something is the case].'' It may be tempting to regard ``see that'' as a frozen manifestation of the metaphor. However, the phrase can be productively and systematically varied in ways that suggest the metaphor is live even here. Consider, for example: ``he could only see in a blurred way that ....''

Other common phrases or words manifesting the metaphor include: see as, see how, see through, in [one's] view, view as, regard, looks like, look to, look forward to, shortsighted, lose sight of, blind to, focus on, outlook, viewpoint, flash of insight, flicker of recognition, bright, brilliant, having an eye toward.

One particular, common way in which the metaphor is manifested is in casting visual images as pictures, diagrams, etc. It is common in ordinary language to talk of ``picturing'' things or of having ``pictures'' of objects or situations in one's mind.


Cognizing as Physically Sensing


Cognizing as Interacting with Non-Own-Mental Entities
Ideas/Emotions as Physical Objects

In many manifestations of Cognizing as Seeing, the seen items are often non-mental items of some sort, such as external situations. In that case, the manifestations are also manifestations of Cognizing as Interacting with Non-Own-Mental Entities.

On the other hand, in other manifestations of Cognizing as Seeing, the seen objects are mental objects (or things that are arguably mental objects, such as problems and solutions to problems). In this case, the manifestations are also manifestations of Ideas/Emotions as Physical Objects. (Under that metaphor, of course, the point is that the relevant cognizing is a physical interaction with or relationship to the ``physical'' objects.)


Mind as Physical Space

In a common special case of the situation in which the seen objects are mental objects, those objects are within the agent's mind, conceived of as a physical space. We therefore have mixing with Mind as Physical Space. When a mind is viewed as a physical space, visual perception can play an important role within that space. If the agent cannot ``see'' something within the mind ``space'', then the agent is not conscious of it. Something which is in the focus of the agent's ``vision'' seen is in the focus of his/her consciousness. Something in a ``dark'' part of the mind might be visible, but only dimly, and is therefore not prominent to consciousness. A ``flash'' of insight is strongly present to consciousness because sudden and bright.

Last mod: 1 Jun 2012