The neural, evolutionary, developmental, and bodily basis of metaphor

New Ideas in Psychology 23 (2):74-95 (2005)
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Abstract

We propose that there are four fundamental kinds of metaphor that are uniquely mapped onto specific brain ‘‘networks’’ and present preliterate (i.e., evolutionary, including before the appearance of written language in the historical record), prelinguistic (i.e., developmental, before the appearance of speech in human development), and extralinguistic (i.e., neuropsychological, cognitive) evidence supportive of this view. We contend that these basic metaphors are largely nonconceptual and entail (a) perceptual–perceptual, (b) cross-modal, (c) movement–movement, and (d) perceptual-affective mappings that, at least, in the initial stages of processing may operate largely outside of conscious awareness. In opposition to our basic metaphor theory (BmT), the standard theory (SmT) maintains that metaphor is a conceptual mapping from some base domain to some target domain and/or represents class-inclusion (categorical) assertions. The SmT captures aspects of secondary or conceptual metaphoric relations but not primary or basic metaphoric relations in our view. We believe our theory (BmT) explains more about how people actually recognize or create metaphoric associations across disparate domains of experience partly because they are ‘‘pre-wired’’ to make these links.

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