Browsing by Subject "conceptual metaphor"

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  • Lehtonen, Saana (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    The purpose of this thesis is to investigate how a poetic metaphor challenges our common sense notions about the world (the estrangement effect) and enables unorthodox ways of thinking and acting (creative imagination). In the study, I will compare and evaluate theories that investigate the role that metaphor has in lived human experience. All the theories discussed share the view that metaphor is epistemologically important for humans. Two different characterisations of this epistemic importance can be identified: 1) the cognitive view, which emphasises the role of metaphor in unconscious, prelinguistic and embodied thought; 2) the pragmatic and phenomenological view of metaphor as a creative activity, a re-imagining of experience and a communicative phenomenon. Defending the latter position, I argue that metaphor has epistemic value, but not because metaphor serves as a cognitive foundation for shared human knowledge, but because it is a creative human pursuit of imagining new possibilities and ways of being. I will criticise the cognitive metaphor theory (CMT), as proposed by Lakoff and Johnson, which holds that metaphors are the foundation of human thought and reasoning. This position advocates ideas about global and fixed ways of interpreting metaphor. As such, it fails to explain novel poetic or scientific metaphors, but fairs better with common everyday metaphors, which already have fixed meanings. I will argue that the existence of universal cognitive metaphors is highly doubtful. As an alternative to the problematic framework of the cognitive metaphor theory, I propose pragmatic and phenomenological theories. The pragmatic view of metaphor, proposed by Davidson and Rorty, succeeds better at describing the experience which a novel metaphor incites in the reader. This position suggests that metaphor has an effect, which cannot be explained by extension of a word’s meaning. Metaphor is a linguistic stimulus, which forces the reader to do some creative guesswork about its intention and meaning. Metaphor has pragmatic potential, because it motivates human innovation and discovery. The phenomenological position, espoused by Ricoeur, describes the sense of wonder and excitement that living metaphor evokes in us. This view suggests that metaphorical estrangement is closely aligned with the phenomenological method of epoché, suspension of everyday judgment. Ricoeur suggests that poetic metaphor, similar to the epoché, can help us distance ourselves from the natural attitude and reveal novel ontological possibilities for humans. Despite their differences, both the pragmatist and the phenomenological position characterise metaphor as a creative use of language and arrive at similar conclusions. Committing metaphoric acts has positive consequences because metaphors motivate critical thought, prompt self-reflection and re-evaluation of our previous thought, and enable creative problem solving, speculation and invention.