THUS HAVING CHILSED away some of the major misconceptions about consciousness, what then have we left? If consciousness is not all these things, if it is not so extensive as we think, not a copy of experience, or the necessary locus of learning, judgment, or even thought, what is it? And as we stare into the dust and rubble of the last chapter, hoping Pygmalion-like to see consciousness newly step forth pure and pristine out of the detritus, let us ramble out and around the subject a little way as the dust settles, talking of different things.
Metaphor and Language
Let us speak of metaphor. The most fascinating property of language is its capacity to make metaphors. But what an understatement! For metaphor is not a mere extra trick of language, as it is so often slighted in the old schoolbooks on composition; it is the very constitutive ground of language. I am using metaphor here in its most general sense: the use of a term for one thing to describe another because of some kind of similarity between them or between their relations to other things. There are thus always two terms in a metaphor, the thing to be described, which I shall call the metaphrand, and the thing or relation used to elucidate it, which I shall call the metaphier. A metaphor is always a known metaphier operating on a less known meta-phrand.1 I have coined these hybrid terms simply to echo multiplication where a multiplier operates on a multiplicand.
It is by metaphor that language grows. The common reply to the question “what is it?” is, when the reply is difficult or. the experience unique, “well, it is like ?.” In laboratory studies, both children and adults describing nonsense objects (or metaphrands) to others who cannot see them use extended metaphiers that with repetition become contracted into labels.2 This is the major way in which the vocabulary of language is formed. The grand and vigorous function of metaphor is the generation of new language as it is needed, as human culture becomes more and more complex.
A random glance at the etymologies of common words in a dictionary will demonstrate this assertion. Or take the naming of various fauna and flora in their Latin indicants, or even in their wonderful common English names, such as stag beetle, lady’s slipper, darning needle, Queen Anne’s lace, or buttercup. The human body is a particularly generative metaphier, creating previously unspeakable distinctions in a throng of areas. The head of an army, table, page, bed, ship, household, or nail, or of steam or water; the face of a clock, cliff, card, or crystal; the eyes of needles, winds, storms, targets, flowers, or potatoes; the brow of a hill; the cheeks of a vise; the teeth of cogs or combs; the lips of pitchers, craters, augers; the tongues of shoes, board joints, or railway switches; the arm of a chair or the sea; the leg of a table, compass, sailor’s voyage, or cricket field; and so on and on. Or the foot of this page. Or the leaf you will soon turn. All of these concrete metaphors increase enormously our powers of percep- tion of the world about us and our understanding of it, and literally create new objects. Indeed, language is an organ of per- ception, not simply a means of communication.
This is language moving out synchronically (or without reference to time) into the space of the world to describe it and perceive it more and more definitively. But language also moves in another and more important way, diachronically, or through time, and behind our experiences on the basis of aptic structures in our nervous systems to create abstract concepts whose referents are not observables except in a metaphorical sense. And these too are generated by metaphor. This is indeed the nub (knob), heart, pith, kernel, core, marrow, etc. of my argument, which itself is a metaphor and ‘seen’ only with the mind’s ‘eye’. In the abstractions of human relations, the skin becomes a particularly important metaphier. We get or stay ‘in touch’ with others who may be ‘thick-‘ or ‘thin-skinned’ or perhaps ‘touchy’ in which case they have to be ‘handled’ carefully lest we ‘rub’ them the wrong way; we may have a ‘feeling’ for another person with whom we may have a ‘touching’ experience.3
The concepts of science are all of this kind, abstract concepts generated by concrete metaphors. In physics, we have force, acceleration (to increase one’s steps), inertia (originally an indolent person), impedance, resistance, fields, and now charm. In physiology, the metaphier of a machine has been at the very center of discovery. We understand the brain by metaphors to everything from batteries and telegraphy to computers and holo- grams. Medical practice is sometimes dictated by metaphor. In the eighteenth century, the heart in fever was like a boiling pot, and so bloodletting was prescribed to reduce its fuel. And even today, a great deal of medicine is based upon the military metaphor of defense of the body against attacks of this or that. The very concept of law in Greek derives from nomos, the word for the foundations of a building. To be liable, or bound in law, comes from the Latin ligare, meaning to bind with cord. In early times, language and its referents climbed up from the concrete to the abstract on the steps of metaphors, even, we may say, created the abstract on the bases of metaphors.
It is not always obvious that metaphor has played this all-important function. But this is because the concrete metaphiers become hidden in phonemic change, leaving the words to exist on their own. Even such an unmetaphorical-sounding word as the verb ‘to be’ was generated from a metaphor. It comes from the Sanskrit bhu, “to grow, or make grow,” while the English forms ‘am’ and ‘is’ have evolved from the same root as the Sanskrit asmiy “to breathe.” It is something of a lovely surprise that the irregular conjugation of our most nondescript verb is thus a record of a time when man had no independent word for ‘existence’ and could only say that something ‘grows’ or that it “breathes.”4 Of course we are not conscious that the concept of being is thus generated from a metaphor about growing and breathing. Abstract words are ancient coins whose concrete images in the busy give-and-take of talk have worn away with use.
Because in our brief lives we catch so little of the vastnesses of history, we tend too much to think of language as being solid as a dictionary, with a granite-like permanence, rather than as the rampant restless sea of metaphor which it is. Indeed, if we consider the changes in vocabulary that have occurred over the last few millennia, and project them several millennia hence, an interesting paradox arises. For if we ever achieve a language that has the power of expressing everything, then metaphor will no longer be possible. I would not say, in that case, my love is like a red, red rose, for love would have exploded into terms for its thousands of nuances, and applying the correct term would leave the rose metaphorically dead.
The lexicon of language, then, is a finite set of terms that by metaphor is able to stretch out over an infinite set of circumstances, even to creating new circumstances thereby. (Could consciousness be such a new creation?)
Understanding as Metaphor
We are trying to understand consciousness, but what are we really trying to do when we try to understand anything? Like children trying to describe nonsense objects, so in trying to understand a thing we are trying to find a metaphor for that thing. Not just any metaphor, but one with something more familiar and easy to our attention. Understanding a thing is to arrive at a metaphor for that thing by substituting something more familiar to us. And the feeling of familiarity is the feeling of understanding.
Generations ago we would understand thunderstorms perhaps as the roaring and rumbling about in battle of superhuman gods. We would have reduced the racket that follows the streak of lightning to familiar battle sounds, for example. Similarly today, we reduce the storm to various supposed experiences with friction, sparks, vacuums, and the imagination of bulgeous banks of burly air smashing together to make the noise. None of these really exist as we picture them. Our images of these events of physics are as far from the actuality as fighting gods. Yet they act as the metaphor and they feel familiar and so we say we understand the thunderstorm.
So, in other areas of science, we say we understand an aspect of nature when we can say it is similar to some familiar theoretical model. The terms theory and model, incidentally, are sometimes used interchangeably. But really they should not be. A theory is a relationship of the model to the things the model is supposed to represent. The Bohr model of the atom is that of a proton surrounded by orbiting electrons. It is something like the pattern of the solar system, and that is indeed one of its metaphoric sources. Bohr’s theory was that all atoms were similar to his model. The theory, with the more recent discovery of new particles and complicated interatomic relationships, has turned out not to be true. But the model remains. A model is neither true nor false; only the theory of its similarity to what it represents.
A theory is thus a metaphor between a model and data. And understanding in science is the feeling of similarity between complicated data and a familiar model.
If understanding a thing is arriving at a familiarizing metaphor for it, then we can see that there always will be a difficulty in understanding consciousness. For it should be immediately apparent that there is not and cannot be anything in our immediate experience that is like immediate experience itself. There is therefore a sense in which we shall never be able to understand consciousness in the same way that we can understand things that we are conscious of.
Most of the errors about consciousness that we have been studying have been errors of attempted metaphors. We spoke of the notion of consciousness being a copy of experience coming out of the explicit metaphor of a schoolboy’s slate. But of course no one really meant consciousness copies experience; it was as if it did. And we found on analysis, of course, that it did no such thing.
And even the idea behind that last phrase, that consciousness does anything at all, even that is a metaphor. It is saying that consciousness is a person behaving in physical space who does things, and this is true only if ‘does’ is a metaphor as well. For to do things is some kind of behavior in a physical world by a living body. And also in what Space’ is the metaphorical ‘doing’ being done? (Some of the dust is beginning to settle.) This ‘space* too must be a metaphor of real space. All of which is reminiscent of our discussion of the location of consciousness, also a metaphor. Consciousness is being thought of as a thing, and so like other things must have a location, which, as we saw earlier, it does not actually have in the physical sense.
I realize that my argument here is becoming fairly dense. But before coming out into the clearing, I wish to describe what I shall mean by the term analog. An analog is a model, but a model of a special kind. It is not like a scientific model, whose source may be anything at all and whose purpose is to act as an hypothesis of explanation or understanding. Instead, an analog is at every point generated by the thing it is an analog of. A map is a good example. It is not a model in the scientific sense, not a hypothetical model like the Bohr atom to explain something unknown. Instead, it is constructed from something well known, if not completely known. Each region of a district of land is allotted a corresponding region on the map, though the materials of land and map are absolutely different and a large proportion of the features of the land have to be left out. And the relation between an analog map and its land is a metaphor. If I point to a location on a map and say, “There is Mont Blanc and from Chamonix we can reach the east face this way,” that is really a shorthand way of saying, ” T h e relations between the point labeled ‘Mont Blanc’ and other points is similar to the actual Mont Blanc and its neighboring regions.”
The Metaphor Language of Mind
I think it is apparent now, at least dimly, what is emerging from the debris of the previous chapter. I do not now feel myself proving my thesis to you step by step, so much as arranging in your mind certain notions so that, at the very least, you will not be immediately estranged from the point I am about to make. My procedure here in what I realize is a difficult and overtly diffuse part of this book is to simply state in general terms my conclusion and then clarify what it implies.
Subjective conscious mind is an analog of what is called the real world. It is built up with a vocabulary or lexical field whose terms are all metaphors or analogs of behavior in the physical world. Its reality is of the same order as mathematics. It allows us to shortcut behavioral processes and arrive at more adequate decisions. Like mathematics, it is an operator rather than a thing or repository. And it is intimately bound up with volition and decision.
Consider the language we use to describe conscious processes. The most prominent group of words used to describe mental events are visual. We ‘see’ solutions to problems, the best of which may be ‘brilliant’, and the person ‘brighter’ and ‘clear-headed’ as opposed to ‘dull’, ‘fuzzy-minded’, or ‘obscure’ solutions. These words are all metaphors and the mind-space to which they apply is a metaphor of actual space. In it we can ‘approach’ a problem, perhaps from some ‘viewpoint’, and ‘grapple’ with its difficulties, or seize together or ‘com-prehend’ parts of a problem, and so on, using metaphors of behavior to invent things to do in this metaphored mind-space.
And the adjectives to describe physical behavior in real space are analogically taken over to describe mental behavior in mind-space when we speak of our minds as being ‘quick,’ ‘slow’, ‘agitated’ (as when we cogitate or co-agitate), ‘nimble-witted’, ‘strong-‘ or ‘weak-minded.’ The mind-space in which these meta- phorical activities go on has its own group of adjectives; we can be ‘broad-minded’, ‘deep’, ‘open’, or ‘narrow-minded’; we can be ‘occupied’; we can ‘get something off our minds’, ‘put something out of mind’, or we can ‘get it’, let something ‘penetrate’, or ‘bear’, ‘have’, ‘keep’, or ‘hold’ it in mind.
As with a real space, something can be at the ‘back’ of our mind, in its ‘inner recesses’, or ‘beyond’ our mind, or ‘out’ of our mind. In argument we try to ‘get things through’ to someone, to ‘reach’ their ‘understanding’ or find a ‘common ground’, or ‘point out’, etc., all actions in real space taken over analogically into the space of the mind.
But what is it we are making a metaphor of? We have seen that the usual function of metaphor is a wish to designate a particular aspect of a thing or to describe something for which words are not available. That thing to be designated, described, expressed, or lexically widened is what we have called the metaphrand. We operate upon this by some similar, more familiar thing, called a metaphier. Originally, of course, the purpose was intensely practical, to designate an arm of the sea as a better place for shellfish, or to put a head on a nail that it might better hold a board to a stanchion. The metaphiers here were arm and head, and the metaphrands a particular part of the sea and particular end of the nail that already existed. Now when we say mind-space is a metaphor of real space, it is the real ‘external’ world that is the metaphier. But if metaphor generates con- sciousness rather than simply describes it, what is the metaphrand?
Paraphiers and Paraphrands
If we look more carefully at the nature of metaphor (noticing all the while the metaphorical nature of almost everything we are saying), we find (even the verb “find”!) that it is composed of more than a metaphier and a metaphrand. There are also at the bottom of most complex metaphors various associations or attri- butes of the metaphier which I am going to call paraphiers. And these paraphiers project back into the metaphrand as what I shall call the paraphrands of the metaphrand. Jargon, yes, but absolutely necessary if we are to be crystal clear about our referents.
Some examples will show that the unraveling of metaphor into these four parts is really quite simple, as well as clarifying what otherwise we could not speak about.
Consider the metaphor that the snow blankets the ground. The metaphrand is something about the completeness and even thickness with which the ground is covered by snow. The metaphier is a blanket on a bed. But the pleasing nuances of this metaphor are in the paraphiers of the metaphier, blanket. These are something about warmth, protection, and slumber until some period of awakening. These associations of blanket then automatically become the associations or paraphrands of the original metaphrand, the way the snow covers the ground. And we thus have created by this metaphor the idea of the earth sleeping and protected by the snow cover until its awakening in spring. All this is packed into the simple use of the word ‘blanket’ to pertain to the way snow covers the ground.
Not all metaphors, of course, have such generative potential. In that often-cited one that a ship plows the sea, the metaphrand is the particular action of the bow of the ship through the water, and the metaphier is plowing action. The correspondence is exact. And that is the end of it.
But if I say the brook sings through the woods, the similarity of the metaphrand of the brook’s bubbling and gurgling and the metaphier of (presumably) a child singing is not at all exact. It is the paraphiers of joy and dancingness becoming the paraphrands of the brook that are of interest.
Or in the many-poemed comparison of love to a rose, it is not the tenuous correspondence of metaphrand and metaphier but the paraphrands that engage us, that love lives in the sun, smells sweet, has thorns when grasped, and blooms for a season only. Or suppose I say less visually and so more profoundly something quite opposite, that my love is like a tinsmith’s scoop, sunk past its gleam in the meal-bin.5 The immediate correspondence here of metaphrand and metaphier, of being out of casual sight, is trivial. Instead, it is the paraphrands of this metaphor which create what could not possibly be there, the enduring careful shape and hidden shiningness and holdingness of a lasting love deep in the heavy manipulable softnesses of mounding time, the whole simulating (and so paraphranding) sexual intercourse from a male point of view. Love has not such properties except as we generate them by metaphor.
Of such poetry is consciousness made. This can be seen if we return to some of the metaphors of mind we have earlier looked at. Suppose we are trying to solve some simple problem such as the circle-triangle series in the previous chapter. And suppose we express the fact that we have obtained the solution by exclaiming that at last we ‘see’ what the answer is, namely, a triangle. This metaphor may be analyzed just as the blanket of snow or the singing brook. The metaphrand is obtaining the solution, the metaphier is sight with the eyes, and the paraphiers are all those things associated with vision that then create paraphrands, such as the mind’s ‘eye’, ‘seeing the solution clearly’ etc., and, most important, the paraphrand of a ‘space’ in which the ‘seeing’ is going on, or what I am calling mind-space, and ‘objects’ to ‘see.’ I do not mean this brief sketch to stand in for a real theory of how consciousness was generated in the first place. That problem we shall come to in Book II. Rather I intend only to suggest the possibility that I hope to make plausible later, that consciousness is the work of lexical metaphor. It is spun out of the concrete metaphiers of expression and their paraphiers, projecting paraphrands that exist only in the functional sense. Moreover, it goes on generating itself, each new paraphrand capable of being a metaphrand on its own, resulting in new metaphiers with their paraphiers, and so on.
Of course this process is not and cannot be as haphazard as I am making it sound. The world is organized, highly organized, and the concrete metaphiers that are generating consciousness thus generate consciousness in an organized way. Hence the similarity of consciousness and the physical-behavioral world we are conscious of. And hence the structure of that world is echoed ? though with certain differences ? in the structure of consciousness.
One last complication before going on. A cardinal property of an analog is that the way it is generated is not the way it is used ? obviously. The map-maker and map-user are doing two different things. For the map-maker, the metaphrand is the blank piece of paper on which he operates with the metaphier of the land he knows and has surveyed. But for the map-user, it is just the other way around. The land is unknown; it is the land that is the metaphrand, while the metaphier is the map which he is using, by which he understands the land.
And so with consciousness. Consciousness is the metaphrand when it is being generated by the paraphrands of our verbal expressions. But the functioning of consciousness is, as it were, the return journey. Consciousness becomes the metaphier full of our past experience, constantly and selectively operating on such unknowns as future actions, decisions, and partly remembered pasts, on what we are and yet may be. And it is by the generated structure of consciousness that we then understand the world. What kinds of things can we say about that structure? Here I shall briefly allude to only the most important.
The Features of Consciousness
I. Spatialization. The first and most primitive aspect of consciousness is what we already have had occasion to refer to, the paraphrand of almost every mental metaphor we can make, the mental space which we take over as the very habitat of it all. If I ask you to think of your head, then your feet, then the breakfast you had this morning, and then the Tower of London, and then the constellation of Orion, these things have the quality of being spatially separated; and it is this quality I am here referring to. When we introspect (a metaphor of seeing into something), it is upon this metaphorical mind-space which we are constantly renewing and ‘enlarging’ with each new thing or relation consciousized.
In Chapter 1, we spoke of how we invent mind-space inside our own heads as well as the heads of others. The word invent is perhaps too strong except in the ontological sense. We rather assume these ‘spaces’ without question. They are a part of what it is to be conscious and what it is to assume consciousness in others.
Moreover, things that in the physical-behavioral world do not have a spatial quality are made to have such in consciousness. Otherwise we cannot be conscious of them. This we shall call spatialization.
Time is an obvious example. If I ask you to think of the last hundred years, you may have a tendency to excerpt the matter in such a way that the succession of years is spread out, probably from left to right. But of course there is no left or right in time. There is only before and after, and these do not have any spatial properties whatever ? except by analog. You cannot, absolutely cannot think of time except by spatializing it. Consciousness is always a spatialization in which the diachronic is turned into the synchronic, in which what has happened in time is excerpted and seen in side-by-sideness.
This spatialization is characteristic of all conscious thought. If you are now thinking of where in all the theories of mind my particular theory fits, you are first habitually ‘turning’ to your mind-space where abstract things can be ‘separated out’ and ‘put beside’ each other to be ‘looked at’ ? as could never happen physically or in actuality. You then make the metaphor of theories as concrete objects, then the metaphor of a temporal suecession of such objects as a synchronic array, and thirdly, the metaphor of the characteristics of theories as physical characteristics, all of some degree so they can be ‘arranged’ in a kind of order. And you then make the further expressive metaphor of ‘fit’. The actual behavior of fitting, of which ‘fit’ here is the analog in consciousness, may vary from person to person or from culture to culture, depending on personal experience of arranging things in some kind of order, or of fitting objects into their receptacles, etc. The metaphorical substrate of thought is thus sometimes very complicated, and difficult to unravel. But every conscious thought that you are having in reading this book can by such an analysis be traced back to concrete actions in a concrete world.
2. Excerption. In consciousness, we are never ‘seeing’ anything in its entirety. This is because such ‘seeing’ is an analog of actual behavior and in actual behavior we can only see or pay attention to a part of a thing at any one moment. And so in consciousness. We excerpt from the collection of possible attentions to a thing which comprises our knowledge of it. And this is all that it is possible to do since consciousness is a metaphor of our actual behavior.
Thus, if I ask you to think of a circus, for example, you will first have a fleeting moment of slight fuzziness, followed perhaps by a picturing of trapeze artists or possibly a clown in the center ring. Or, if you think of the city which you are now in, you will excerpt some feature, such as a particular building or tower or crossroads. Or if I ask you to think of yourself, you will make some kind of excerpts from your recent past, believing you are then thinking of yourself. In all these instances, we find no difficulty or particular paradox in the fact that these excerpts are not the things themselves, although we talk as if they were. Actually we are never conscious of things in their true nature, only of the excerpts we make of them.
The variables controlling excerption are deserving of much more thought and study. For on them the person’s whole consciousness of the world and the persons with whom he is interacting depend. Your excerptions of someone you know well are heavily associated with your affect toward him. If you like him, the excerpts will be the pleasant things; if not, the unpleasant. The causation may be in either direction.
How we excerpt other people largely determines the kind of world we feel we are living in. Take for example one’s relatives when one was a child. If we excerpt them as their failures, their hidden conflicts, their delusions, well, that is one thing. But if we excerpt them at their happiest, in their idiosyncratic delights, it is quite another world. Writers and artists are doing in a controlled way what happens ‘in’ consciousness more haphazardly.
Excerption is distinct from memory. An excerpt of a thing is in consciousness the representative of the thing or event to which memories adhere, and by which we can retrieve memories. If I wish to remember what I was doing last summer, I first have an excerption of the time concerned, which may be a fleeting image of a couple of months on the calendar, until I rest in an excerption of a particular event, such as walking along a particular riverside. And from there I associate around it and retrieve memories about last summer. This is what we mean by reminiscence, and it is a particular conscious process which no animal is capable of. Reminiscence is a succession of excerptions. Each so-called association in consciousness is an excerption, an aspect or image, if you will, something frozen in time, excerpted from the experience on the basis of personality and changing situational factors.6
3. The Analog ‘I’. A most important ‘feature’ of this metaphor ‘world’ is the metaphor we have of ourselves, the analog ‘I’, which can ‘move about’ vicarially in our ‘imagination’, ‘doing’ things that we are not actually doing. There are of course many uses for such an analog ‘I’. We imagine ‘ourselves’ ‘doing’ this or that, and thus ‘make’ decisions on the basis of imagined ‘outcomes’ that would be impossible if we did not have an imagined ‘self’ behaving in an imagined ‘world’. In the example in the section on spatialization, it was not your physical behavioral self that was trying to ‘see’ where my theory ‘fits’ into the array of alternative theories. It was your analog ‘I’.
If we are out walking, and two roads diverge in a wood, and we know that one of them comes back to our destination after a much more circuitous route, we can ‘traverse’ that longer route with our analog ‘I’ to see if its vistas and ponds are worth the longer time it will take. Without consciousness with its vicarial analog ‘I’, we could not do this.
4. The Metaphor ‘Me’. The analog ‘I’ is, however, not simply that. It is also a metaphor ‘me’. As we imagine ourselves strolling down the longer path we indeed catch ‘glimpses’ of ‘ourselves’, as we did in the exercises of Chapter 1, where we called them autoscopic images. We can both look out from within the imagined self at the imagined vistas, or we can step back a bit and see ourselves perhaps kneeling down for a drink of water at a particular brook. There are of course quite profound problems here, particularly in the relationship of the ‘I’ to the ‘me’. But that is another treatise. And I am only indicating the nature of the problem.
5. Narratization. In consciousness, we are always seeing our vicarial selves as the main figures in the stories of our lives. In the above illustration, the narratization is obvious, namely, walking along a wooded path. But it is not so obvious that we are constantly doing this whenever we are being conscious, and this I call narratization. Seated where I am, I am writing a book and this fact is imbedded more or less in the center of the story of my life, time being spatialized into a journey of my days and years.
New situations are selectively perceived as part of this ongoing story, perceptions that do not fit into it being unnoticed or at least unremembered. More important, situations are chosen which are congruent to this ongoing story, until the picture I have of myself in my life story determines how I am to act and choose in novel situations as they arise.
The assigning of causes to our behavior or saying why we did a particular thing is all a part of narratization. Such causes as reasons may be true or false, neutral or ideal. Consciousness is ever ready to explain anything we happen to find ourselves doing. The thief narratizes his act as due to poverty, the poet his as due to beauty, and the scientist his as due to truth, purpose and cause inextricably woven into the spatialization of behavior in consciousness.
But it is not just our own analog ‘I’ that we are narratizing; it is everything else in consciousness. A stray fact is narratized to fit with some other stray fact. A child cries in the street and we narratize the event into a mental picture of a lost child and a parent searching for it. A cat is up in a tree and we narratize the event into a picture of a dog chasing it there. Or the facts of mind as we can understand them into a theory of consciousness.
6. Conciliation. A final aspect of consciousness I wish to mention here is modeled upon a behavioral process common to most mammals. It really springs from simple recognition, where a slightly ambiguous perceived object is made to conform to some previously learned schema, an automatic process sometimes called assimilation. We assimilate a new stimulus into our conception, or schema about it, even though it is slightly different. Since we never from moment to moment see or hear or touch things in exactly the same way, this process of assimilation into previous experience is going on all the time as we perceive our world. We are putting things together into recognizable objects on the basis of the previously learned schemes we have of them.
Now assimilation consciousized is conciliation. A better term for it might be compatibilization, but that seems something too rococo. What I am designating by conciliation is essentially doing in mind-space what narratization does in mind-time or spatialized time. It brings things together as conscious objects just as narratization brings things together as a story. And this fitting together into a consistency or probability is done according to rules built up in experience.
In conciliation we are making excerpts or narratizations compatible with each other, just as in external perception the new stimulus and the internal conception are made to agree. If we are narratizing ourselves as walking along a wooded path, the succession of excerpts is automatically made compatible with such a journey. Or if in daydreaming two excerpts or narratizations happen to begin occurring at the same time, they are fused or conciliated.
If I ask you to think of a mountain meadow and a tower at the same time, you automatically conciliate them by having the tower rising from the meadow. But if I ask you to think of the mountain meadow and an ocean at the same time, conciliation tends not to occur and you are likely to think of one and then the other. You can only bring them together by a narratization. Thus there are principles of compatibility that govern this process, and such principles are learned and are based on the structure of the world.
Let me summarize as a way of ‘seeing’ where we are and the direction in which our discussion is going. We have said that consciousness is an operation rather than a thing, a repository, or a function. It operates by way of analogy, by way of constructing an analog space with an analog ‘I’ that can observe that space, and move metaphorically in it. It operates on any reactivity, excerpts relevant aspects, narratizes and conciliates them together in a metaphorical space where such meanings can be manipulated like things in space. Conscious mind is a spatial analog of the world and mental acts are analogs of bodily acts. Consciousness operates only on objectively observable things. Or, to say it another way with echoes of John Locke, there is nothing in consciousness that is not an analog of something that was in behavior first.
This has been a difficult chapter. But I hope I have sketched out with some plausibility that the notion of consciousness as a metaphor-generated model of the world leads to some quite definite deductions, and that these deductions are testable in our own everyday conscious experience. It is only, of course, a beginning, a somewhat rough-hewn beginning, which I hope to develop in a future work. But it is enough to return now to our major inquiry of the origin of it all, saving further amplification of the nature of consciousness itself for later chapters.
If consciousness is this invention of an analog world on the basis of language, paralleling the behavioral world even as the world of mathematics parallels the world of quantities of things, what then can we say about its origin?
We have arrived at a very interesting point in our discussion, and one that is completely contradictory to all of the alternative solutions to the problem of the origin of consciousness which we discussed in the introductory chapter. For if consciousness is based on language, then it follows that it is of a much more recent origin than has heretofore been supposed. Consciousness come after language! The implications of such a position are extremely serious.