There’s an interesting article at the Chronicle of Higher Education about how the body relates to consciousness. I’m sure ya’ll will read the whole thing, but the thrust of the article is about how literal versus metaphorical versus idiomatic speech. It seems that human language is so littered with metaphors that we may not even not notice that it may be vital to consciousness. This has even led to the theory that artificial intelligence may not even be possible because of the lack of bodies on the part of these theoretical AIs – if they can’t properly think of stocks rising and looking forward into the future they may not be up to snuff, smarts-wise.
I was interested, though, to see that when neuroscientists study the brain to see what happens when they think of different phrases, idioms cause confusion. When people think of metaphors, the brain basically does the same thing it would if the body was acting the metaphor out, but things get all confused with idioms. Well, no one asked me, but clearly that it because large numbers of people don’t understand the idioms they use all the time. Heck, even the great Stephen King sometimes gets confused. If Steve’s brain had been scanned while he talked about about “getting up on his hobby horse” that time, he probably would have been envisioning not a hobby horse but a noble high horse. Then someone else saying it might have envisioned a little wheely horse and someone else a stick horse, and, well, try averaging all that together and getting something consistent.