Exploradio Origins: How Blending Concepts Hold Clues to Cognition

Dec 13, 2018

Mark Turner
Credit markturner.org

Mark Turner is an Institute Professor and Professor of Cognitive Science at Case Western Reserve University. He studies how our brains can innovate or form new ideas, and one of his methods actually involves digging into our use of language.

“If I say, ‘You’re digging your own financial grave,’ well, that’s advice about investing. And think of all of the great network in investing. It involves hundreds of thousands of people, and lots of causation, and it goes over time and space, different continents, right? That’s very different from the action of digging a grave. But the human being can put these things together,” Turner said.

Turner is a founder of the theory of "Blending"--that is, human's ability to combine different, or even conflicting ideas in inventive ways to convey meaning.

“This is extremely common in our species. Far from the conflict between the things stopping you, it in fact seems to be a prompt to human innovation,” Turner said. “That operation, which we call blending, can be found as far as we can tell, in all the domains of human behavior.”