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Metaphor: A Practical Introduction

by Zoltan Kovecses

Last tended to June 16, 2020

Kovecses' book is a comprehensive tour through the last couple decades of research on cognitive science & metaphor

Metaphors We Live By was the starting point of interest around Conceptual Metaphor Also known as Cognitive Metaphor, but an enormous amount of research and thought has been built off its foundations.

This is a well-written, up to date introduction that covers most of the metaphorical research from the 1980s up to now.

  1. "The way most people think about metaphor is an outdated view – seeing it only as a feature of language, a figure of speech, or artistic flourish. A fancy add on."
  2. "Over the last few decades, an enormous amount of research has come out of Neuroscience and Cognitive Science that shows metaphors are instead fundamental to the way the our minds work. They are structural concepts that form of basis of all human cognition. "
  3. "This understanding has been called Conceptual Metaphor, and was developed by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson throughout the early eighties and nineties.
    They first proposed it in
    Metaphors We Live
    , and both went on to publish an enormous volume of follow-up work with books like
    Philosophy in the Flesh
    Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things
    , and
    The Body in the Mind

We now know:

  • Metaphors are mental concepts, not simply words
  • Metaphor is often not based on similarity
  • We use metaphors all day every day to perceive, comprehend, and reason about the world

"In this view, metaphor ceases to be the sole device of creative literary imagination; it becomes a valuable cognitive tool without which neither poets nor you and I as ordinary people could live."

"Trying to understand metaphor means attempting to understand a vital part of who we are and what kind of world we live in."

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