Problem Set – June 11th
1. How does our spatial representation of time constitute an element of consciousness?
Jaynes outlines six essential features to consciousness in modern humans. The first is spatialization. This describes the ability to metaphorically construct abstract concepts in a spatial map. For example, think about human history from about 1000 AD to today. How did you conceive of this concept? Did you see a timeline running left to right, with bullet points for the Norman Conquest (AD 1066), Columbus’ landing in Central America (AD 1492), The American Revolution (AD 1776), and so on? Why should time need to run from left to right? Another example using time is how we conceive of short periods of time. If you’ve ever worn an analog watch, you most likely have once thought of a certain period of time in terms of a spatial block measured by the distance the hands on your watch travel.
2. What does Jaynes mean by excerptation?
The second element to consciousness is excerptation. This is the ability to recall selected descriptive elements of a particular concept relevant to our experience. For example, if I ask you to think of an amusement park, you may first think of a Ferris wheel, a dart game you were good at, or maybe the shady looking carny who once stood in front of the balloon targets in order to prevent you from winning the good prizes. In all these cases, you are taking an excerpt from the total experience as representative of the whole.
3. What function do the metaphors “I” and “Me”i serve as functions of consciousness?
All this enables us to construct a metaphorical world to move about in referentially, and leads us to the next two components of consciousness; the analog ‘I’ and the metaphor ‘Me.’ The analog ‘I’ allows us to move about in the metaphoric world; we imagine ‘ourselves’ ‘ doing’ something, ‘making’ a decision, and so on. This is closely related to the metaphor ‘Me’, which allows us to step outside of ourselves...
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