Conceptual Blending

The Riddle of the Buddhist Monk: A Buddhist monk begins at dawn one day walking up a mountain, reaches the top at sunset, meditates at the top overnight until, at dawn, he begins to walk back to the foot of the mountain, which he reaches at sunset. Make no assumptions about his starting or stopping or about his pace during the trips. Riddle: is there a place on the path that the monk occupies at the same hour of the day on the two trips?

Conceptual blending, also called conceptual integration or view application, is a theory of cognition developed by Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner. According to this theory, elements and vital relations from diverse scenarios are “blended” in a subconscious process, which is assumed to be ubiquitous to everyday thought and language.

Conceptual blending is a fundamental instrument of the every day mind, used in our basic construal of all our realities, from the social to the scientific.

— Mark Turner

Insights obtained from conceptual blends constitute the products of creative thinking, however conceptual blending theory is not itself a complete theory of creativity, inasmuch as it does not illuminate the issue of where the inputs to a blend originate. In other words, conceptual blending provides a terminology for describing creative products, but has little to say on the matter of inspiration.