Metaphor, Symbol, and Utterance: The Reality of Relation in Susanne Langer and Mikhail Bakhtin

Dissertation, The Ohio State University (1985)
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Abstract

The rationale for this study is that the nature and relation of thought and language must be better understood if we are to improve the teaching of English. Metaphor and its organic process, the study argues, provide a key to such understanding. ;The purpose of this study is to investigate the nature and function of metaphor, symbolism, and utterance in human thought and language. Although theorists have written about the nature of metaphor and its relation to thinking, little has been said regarding the relation of metaphor to symbolism and even less regarding the relation between metaphor and utterance as they are involved in thought. ;This study shows that interactive views of metaphor derived from the romantic tradition shed the most light on the dynamics of the mind. In the light of romantic theory the image and context interact dialectically in the mind creating patterns that constitute insight. Susanne Langer's work is investigated developmentally here to show that the mind perceives reality in terms of two interactive modes: the presentational and the discursive. This study argues that together they constitute a single metaphorical mode that is organic, and that organicism characterizes human reality. ;Mikhail Bakhtin's theory of utterance, the study then demonstrates, similarly displays organicism and the dynamics of the metaphoric symbol. In Bakhtin the dynamics of the metaphor extend into the human utterance and human communication as well. ;The final chapter suggests some practical implications for the teaching and studying of writing and literature which follow from viewing the mind, language, and communication as an organic, metaphorical process. ;The study is theoretical and employs ciritical synthesis as its methodology

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