On Wandering pt. III

3 January 2006 at 6:06 pm Leave a comment

The concept of wandering as I have developed it in previous posts takes on a new resonance when considered in light of recent developments in “cognitive linguistics” as developed by scholars such as George Lakoff, Mark Johnson, and Mark Turner.  In their early work, Lakoff and Johnson speak of “metaphorical concepts”; later, in their Philosophy in the Flesh:  The Embodied Mind And Its Challenge to Western Philosophy, they call them “conceptual metaphors.”  Whatever we want to call them, these terms describe the “dead metaphors” that underlie all of our abstract thinking. 

The best way to understand this is to see an example.  I will use one relevant to this business of wandering.  It’s actually a cluster of conceptual metaphors that gather around spatial metaphors of thinking.  The key metaphorical concept is THINKING IS MOVING, and within this we see the following mapping:

The Mind is a Body
Thinking is Moving
Ideas are Locations
Reason is a Force
Rational Thought is Motion that is Direct, Deliberate, Step-By-Step, And in Accord with the Force of Reason
Being Unable to Think is Being Unable to Move
A Line of Thought is a Path
Thinking about X is Moving in the Area Around X
Communicating is Guiding
Understanding is Following
Rethinking is Going Over the Path Again (see p. 236ff)

Some common phrases in which these dead metaphors are embedded include “How did you reach that conclusion?” or “My mind wandered for a moment,” or how about “Get to the point!”  What about “following” somebody’s argument, or being “led to a conclusion”?!

This business of conceptual metaphors is extremely powerful, and I will return to consider their implications in later posts.  For now, consider the allegorical implications of wandering if the mind is considered a body moving within a virtual space of ideas.


Entry filed under: metaphorical concepts, words.

On Wandering pt. II What is sound?

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