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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.


Ideas as External Entities

Under this metaphor, an agent's ideas, thoughts, hopes, desires, images, etc., or events of the agent thinking, imagining, hoping, desiring, etc., are portrayed as being in a physical space outside the agent. The ideas (etc.) are often cast as concrete physical objects. They can move around, or be active in other ways, and the agent can move relative to the ideas, or physically manipulate an idea (as in ``grasping'' an idea).

The ``external entities'' are often, or usually, physical objects or events.

The physical space in the above description may or may not be the real physical space surrounding the agent. For the former cases, it's possible that a more refined analysis would see a second metaphor, called something like Mind as External Physical Space, mixed in with Ideas as External Entities.

Note that an interaction with ANOTHER agent's ideas would not come under this metaphor, even though those ideas are external to the agent in focus.

(I used to call the metaphor Mind Within Physical Space. I feel the current name is better.)


Ideas as External Utterances


Cognizing as Physically Sensing

An agent's interactions with the alleged external ideas, under Ideas as External Entities, generally involve the agent in physically sensing those ideas (whether through vision, touch, hearing, or whatever). However, Cognizing as Physically Sensing merely overlaps with Ideas as External Entities because in other manifestations of the former what is physically sensed is not (allegedly) an entity external to the agent.


Ideas as Physical Objects


A complication is that Ideas as External Entities and Mind As Physical Space are not always easy to distinguish, and it seems that they are sometimes mixed in the following way: the agent A's mind is viewed as a physical space, M, and one of the entities in it is the agent's conscious self, S. Given that S can itself be viewed metaphorically as an agent, we then have an application of Ideas as External Entities to S mixed with an application of Mind as Physical Space to A, coordinated with each other in that the ``physical space'' for the applications of both metaphors is the same.

Also, under Mind As Physical Space, mental entities such as ideas can be portrayed as moving in and out of that space. The question then arises of where they are, if anywhere, when not in the space: IF they're to be thought of as in the space surrounding the agent, then we also have an instance of Ideas as External Entities. (But that's a big IF.)

Last mod: 26 Nov 2007