Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Leithart on the centrality of Metaphor

"Contrary to modern rationalistic accounts, metaphor is not an adornment to thought and speech, but a primary medium of both. It is not the case that we think and speak literally, and subsequently cast about for appropriate metaphors and symbols to express those literal ideas. Rather, our thinking and speech is metaphorical from the ground up. As George Lakoff and Mark Johnson have written, "conceptual metaphors are mappings across conceptual domains that structure our reasoning, our experience, and our everyday language" (emphasis added [Leithart])" Lakoff and Johnson give numerous examples of what they call "primary metaphors" that shape experience: the metaphorical association of intimacy with physical proximity ("we used to be close"), the link between quantity and height ("stock prices are sharply higher"), the notion that organization is similar to physical structure ("he pieced together the theory of quantum gravity"), the metaphorical link of purposes and destinations ("I'm working on it, but I'm still not there yet"), and so on. These metaphors are so much a part of our basic mental and linguistic equipment that we rarely recognize them as metaphors"

-Peter Leithart
in his essay in the Federal Vision


Blogger Susan said...

Hmm - interesting....as usual.

11/23/2005 9:06 AM  

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