Thinking is seeing: Visual metaphors and the nature of abstract thought

Thinking is seeing: Visual metaphors and the nature of abstract thought MARCEL DANESI The prolific increase in scientifically-oriented research on all aspects of metaphor in the last few decades can only be seen as a sure sign that many cognitive scientists have now come to view this verbal phenomenon as a crucial one for understanding how communication, cognition, and specific language structures interact. As Hoffman (1983: 35) aptly quips, metaphor has indeed become 'a very hot topic' in the cognitive sciences. Especially relevant to this domain of research is the type of metaphor that enlists the visual sense modality in the representation of common abstract thought. In this paper it will be argued that visual metaphors, as they are commonly called, have intriguing implications for the study of the nature of abstract thought. This is not a research report. Such a report would necessarily be dependent upon a previous theoretical probe or search. The search here will be guided by the idea that abstract thinking is linked to the visual system. If this case can be argued successfully, then it can be seen to constitute a testable hypothesis for experimentallyoriented research in several cognitive sciences. Defining visual metaphors Alan Dundes (1972) was one of the first to illustrate in http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Semiotica - Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies / Revue de l'Association Internationale de Sémiotique de Gruyter

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Publisher
de Gruyter
Copyright
Copyright © 2009 Walter de Gruyter
ISSN
0037-1998
eISSN
1613-3692
DOI
10.1515/semi.1990.80.3-4.221
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

MARCEL DANESI The prolific increase in scientifically-oriented research on all aspects of metaphor in the last few decades can only be seen as a sure sign that many cognitive scientists have now come to view this verbal phenomenon as a crucial one for understanding how communication, cognition, and specific language structures interact. As Hoffman (1983: 35) aptly quips, metaphor has indeed become 'a very hot topic' in the cognitive sciences. Especially relevant to this domain of research is the type of metaphor that enlists the visual sense modality in the representation of common abstract thought. In this paper it will be argued that visual metaphors, as they are commonly called, have intriguing implications for the study of the nature of abstract thought. This is not a research report. Such a report would necessarily be dependent upon a previous theoretical probe or search. The search here will be guided by the idea that abstract thinking is linked to the visual system. If this case can be argued successfully, then it can be seen to constitute a testable hypothesis for experimentallyoriented research in several cognitive sciences. Defining visual metaphors Alan Dundes (1972) was one of the first to illustrate in

Journal

Semiotica - Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies / Revue de l'Association Internationale de Sémiotiquede Gruyter

Published: Jan 1, 1990

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