Ed Heil wrote: > There's this intriguing book out by Gilles Fauconnier, called _Mental > Spaces_ (translation of a French original). It does away with > traditional 'referential' semantic analyses of sentences in favor of a > 'cognitive' analysis. He sees sentences not so much as "carriers of > meaning", where a sentence or a word "has" a meaning, but as minimal > sets of instructions, which tell the hearer how to construct a meaning > by manipulating, adding to, and subtracting from configurations of > mental entities. > > Basic to the theory is the idea that meaning is distributed across > sets of "mental spaces," so called because they are usually (in > ordinary conversation) spoken of in metaphorical terms borrowed from > physical spaces. Any situation where meaning is compartmentalized is, > in this theory, represented by different mental spaces: different > times, different places, different contexts, different social spheres, > reality and possibility, antecedent and consequent, and so on, all use > exactly the same mechanisms. This sounds similar to the localist case theory: http://www.uoregon.edu/~delancey/papers/bls91.html > Also basic to the theory is the idea that entities in one mental > space may be linked to entities in another mental space (or in the > same one!) via _connectors_ of different kinds. Generally it is > possible to use the name or description of an entity in one space to > refer to an entity to which it is _connected_. Identity is one > connector among many. Different kinds of analogy are also connectors, > and so are well known functional relationships like those between > authors and books -- "Plato is on the third shelf from the left." > Connectors of another kind link roles and values. There is also the idea of neural maps, pioneered by Michael Arbib back in the 1960's ... http://www-hbp.usc.edu/ These ideas seem to be growing more popular, in linguistics, psychology, and artificial intelligence. > Definite and indefinite descriptions are easily explicated in mental > space theory: a definite description identifies an entity already > existing in a mental space; an indefinite description is an > instruction to set up a new entity in a mental space. (Broadly > speaking.) > > Anyway, in mental space theory, negations are instructions to set up > a mental space which contains the negated material, and to block the > focussed entities from the negative space from being allowed into the > reference space. ("Reference space" is a relative term meaning > something like the "parent" space with reference to which the > negation-space is set up as a "daughter."). A very cool analysis.