Investigating/Inventing New Metaphorical Concepts

12 January 2006 at 6:16 pm 1 comment

I introduced Lakoff and Johnson’s idea of the “metaphorical concept” in a previous post and want to suggest that–if we accept Deleuze and Guattari’s conception of the role of philosophy as “the invention of concepts” as they put forth in What is Philosophy?–philosophy should look to contemporary physics as a “matrix” (i.e. womb) of conceptual generation. For what Lakoff and Johnson–and Mark Turner as well, in his work Reading Minds:  The Study of English in the Age of Cognitive Science–suggest in their recent work on “cognitive linguistics” is that our philosophical concepts are based in large part on our experience of being a body in a three-dimensional space (e.g. “Thinking is Moving”).  But contemporary science and mathematics have taken us beyond a Euclidean 3D space off into bizarre 11-dimensional quivering superstrings.  (note to self:  read Brian Greene’s The Fabric of the Cosmos!!), and quantum physics completely undermines our common-sense notions of presence and absence.  Imagine a philosophy whose metaphorical concepts, whose conceptual inventions, kept abreast of contemporary science and math, such that new concepts were derived from the latest speculations on the nature of the universe and of reality. 

This inspires me to introduce a simple idea that I’ve been brewing for 20 or so years.  It is to follow in the footsteps of the presocratic philosophers insofar as they derive whole philosophies from their observation of the four elements earth, air, water and fire.  But I would mix these elements together (to better reflect twenty-first century understandings of flow and process and ontological uncertainty:  think of Luce Irigaray’s riff on “fluid dynamics” in This Sex Which Is Not One) in order to start from a different place:  mud (earth + water), bubble (water + air), dust (earth + air), lava (earth + fire).  Since most of the contemporary philosophy that I’ve read of late tries to get out from under the “classic Greek gang of three” (i.e. Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle; the phrase is Edward de Bono’s from Water Logic)–Deleuze and Guattari, Derrida, and Lakoff and Johnson (whose Philosophy in the Flesh asks us to scrap all of western philosophy given that it is based entirely on problematic distinctions of mind vs. body)–returning to presocratic methods makes some sense! (Deleuze’s Logic of Sense too resurrects the Stoic philosophers as a way of getting away from the “gang of three”).  Enough for now:  more on this later.


Entry filed under: metaphorical concepts, philosophy.

The Arrogance of Academia Nomad Scholarship

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. butt injections  |  29 July 2013 at 10:27 am

    Good post but I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this subject?
    I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Many thanks!


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