As we think and talk, rich arrays of mental spaces and connections between them are constructed unconsciously. Conceptual integration of mental spaces leads to new meaning, global insight, and compressions useful for memory and creativity. A powerful aspect of conceptual integration networks is the dynamic emergence of novel structure in all areas of human life (science, religion, art, ...). The emergence of complex metaphors creates our conceptualization of time. The same operations play a role in material culture generally. Technology evolves to produce cultural human artefacts such as watches, gauges, compasses, airplane cockpit displays, with structure specifically designed to match conceptual inputs and integrate with them into stable blended frames of perception and action that can be memorized, learned by new generations, and thus culturally transmitted.
Gilles Fauconnier is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Cognitive Science at the University of California San Diego. Ph.D. 1971, UCSD, Docteur ès Lettres 1976, Paris. He is Guggenheim Fellow and Fulbright scholar. His books include Mental Spaces, Mappings in Thought and Language, and The Way We Think.