Spatial Cognition and Semantics

To understand geography and turn geographical observations into knowledge and meaning we need to grasp how we (and our body) form spatial relationships with the Earth. This is where spatial cognition can help us. I thought the 3 types of spaces the authors described in the article are very interest and relevant to semantics and ontology building. I am especially intrigued with the fact that our body is our first compass. This makes sense because our body is what gives us physical form and thus allows us to interact spatially with other physical entities, which in turn, is why we care about geography at all. If the way we understand our surroundings begins with our bodies, then the experiences our body has with physical entities must play a part in how we talk about it. For instance, maybe the reason why different cultures use different propositions to describe the same action (e.g. “across the lake” as “go over the lake” or “pass through the lake”) stems from the different experiences which subjects the body into different positioning with respect to the lake. We use different words because the way we understand the world is different depending on type of space we are using. Or in other words, “in each case, schematization reflects the typical kinds of interactions that human beings have with their surroundings” (522).

– Ally_Nash


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