Minds are rhetorical. From the moment we are born others are shaping our capacity for mental agency. As a meditation on the nature of human thought and action, this book starts with the proposition that human thinking is inherently and irreducibly social, and that the long rhetorical tradition in the West has been a neglected source for thinking about cognition. Each chapter reflects on a different dimension of human thought based on the fundamental proposition that our rhetoric thinks and acts with and through others.
Of all the tasks you perform, perhaps none is more consequential for the performance of other tasks than paying attention. When you attend, you perceive. When you attend and perceive, you remember. When you attend, perceive, and remember, you learn. When you learn, you have the option of acting deliberately. Perceiving, thinking, learning, deciding, and acting require the constant adjustment of the attention system. The author proposes a model of the greater attention system as comprising three distinct but interdependent sub-systems: the signal system, the selection system, and the interpersonal system, with eight elements distributed among them: altering, orienting, detecting, sustaining, controlling, sharing, harmonizing, and directing. The chapters in this book develop an «attentional» analysis of meaning under the unifying framework of mental spaces theory. In addition, each chapter explores the implications of an attention based approach to meaning for research in semiotics, linguistics, and rhetoric. Data for the investigation originate from the author’s own field work carried out in cultural institutions.
The cognitive theory of mental spaces and conceptual integration (MSCI) is a twenty-year-old, cross-disciplinary enterprise that presently unfolds in academic circles on many levels of reflection and research. One important area of inquiry where MSCI can be of immediate use is in the pragmatics of written and spoken discourse and interaction. At the same time, empirical insights from the fields of interaction and discourse provide a necessary fundament for the development of the cognitive theories of discourse. This collection of seven chapters and three commentaries aims at evaluating and developing MSCI as a theory of meaning construction in discourse and interaction. MSCI will benefit greatly not only from empirical support but also from clearer refinement of its methodology and philosophical foundations. This volume presents the latest work on discourse and interaction from a mental spaces perspective, surely to be of interest to a broad range of researchers in discourse analysis.