Theories of Metaphor

Dissertation, Wayne State University (1986)

Sherrill Begres
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Metaphor, I argue, is a type of expression that is used to communicate information beyond that communicated by its literal meaning. I argue that the literal meaning of metaphors are essential. I attempt to account for metaphor in such a way as to retain the literal meaning, while also accounting for what is called the "metaphorical meaning" of metaphors. Secondly, I am concerned with the mechanisms in virtue of which we are able to distinguish the metaphorical from the literal. ;Chapter I is a discussion of the problems that I will consider in the dissertation. These include distinguishing metaphorical from literal expressions, Donald Davidson's learnability and scrutability criteria, the exclusionary criteria, conversion and constancy theories of metaphor, and truth-values of metaphors. ;Chapter II critically examines Aristotle's, Max Black's, and Monroe C. Beardsley's intensional conversion theories. Here I argue that conversion theories are inadequate and unnecessary to account for metaphorical attributions. ;Chapter III critically examines extensional conversion theories of metaphor including Nelson Goodman's version. I discuss the difficulties that arise in postulating such reference conversions. I argue that this type of conversion theory is also unsuccessful and unnecessary. ;Chapter IV is a critical examination of four types of emotive theory of metaphor, one of which is Max Rieser's. These theories maintain, and I deny, that metaphors have an "emotive meaning" in addition to or instead of their literal meaning. I consider the shortcomings and consequences of emotive views, and argue that the postulation of emotive meanings is also misguided and unnecessary. ;Chapter V offers an alternative to conversion theories. Here I argue for a theory requiring no meaning or reference conversions. My view involves H. P. Grice's notions of conversational maxims and implicatures. I conclude that metaphors retain their literal meaning, partly in virtue of which they generate implicatures. I also conclude that our recognition of, and ability to distinguish, metaphors from literal expressions involves the violations of conversational maxims
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