Manifest Image and Scientific Image

Tools For Thinking About Content

The manifest image is the world as it seems to us in everyday life, full of solid objects, colors and smells and tastes, voices and shadows, plants and animals, and people and all their stuff: not only tables and chairs, bridges and churches, dollars and contracts, but also such intangible things as songs, poems, opportunities, and free will. Think of all the puzzling questions that arise when we try to line up all those things with the things in the scientific image: molecules, atoms, electrons, and quarks and their ilk. Is anything really solid? Most of our manifest image is not genetically inherited; it is somehow inculcated in our early childhood experience. Words are a very important category of thing for us, and are the medium through which much of our manifest image is transmitted, but the capacity to categorize some events in the world as words, and our desire to speak, may well be at least partly a genetically inherited talent —like the bird’s capacity to make out individual flying insects, or a wasp’s desire to dig a nest. Terms can structure and flavor our minds, enriching our personal manifest images with things—loose cannons and lip service and feedback—that are otherwise almost invisible.

Resource Datasbase

Philosopher Daniel Dennett's Book Intuition Pumps