Our understanding of the nature and processing of figurative language is central to several important issues in cognitive science, including the relationship of language and thought, how we process language, and how we comprehend abstract meaning. Over the past fifteen years, traditional approaches to these issues have been challenged by experimental psychologists, linguists, and other cognitive scientists interested in the structures of the mind and the processes that operate on them. In Figurative Language and Thought, internationally recognized experts in the (...) field of figurative language, Albert Katz, Mark Turner, Raymond W. Gibbs Jr., and Cristina Cacciari, provide a coherent and focused debate on the subject. The book's authors discuss a variety of fundamental questions, including: What can figures of speech tell us about the structure of the conceptual system? If and how should we distinguish the literal from the nonliteral in our theories of language and thought? Are we primarily figurative thinkers and consequently figurative language users or the other way around? Why do we prefer to speak metaphorically in everyday conversation, when literal options may be available for use? Is metaphor the only vehicle through which we can understand abstract concepts? What role do cultural and social factors play in our comprehension of figurative language? These and related questions are raised and argued in an integrative look at the role of nonliteral language in cognition. This volume, a part of Counterpoints series, will be thought-provoking reading for a wide range of cognitive psychologists, linguists, and philosophers. (shrink)
This paper explores the trade-off between cognitive effort and cognitive effects during immediate metaphor comprehension. We specifically evaluate the fundamental claim of relevance theory that metaphor understanding, like all utterance interpretation, is constrained by the presumption of optimal relevance (Sperber and Wilson, 1995, p. 270): the ostensive stimulus is relevant enough for it to be worth the addressee's effort to process it, and the ostensive stimulus is the most relevant one compatible with the communicator's abilities and preferences. One important implication (...) of optimal relevance is that listeners follow a path of least effort and stop processing at the first interpretation that satisfies their expectation of relevance. They do this by trying to minimize cognitive effort while maximizing cognitive effects. Some relevance theory scholars suggest that metaphors should require additional cognitive effort to be understood, and that in return they yield more cognitive effects than does literal speech. Others claim that metaphors may be understood quickly, as soon as people infer enough effects for the speaker's utterance to meet their expectation of optimal relevance. Our analysis of the experimental evidence suggests that there is no systematic relationship between cognitive effort and cognitive effects in metaphor comprehension. We conclude that relevance theory need not make any general predictions about the effort needed to comprehend metaphors. Nevertheless, relevance theory is consistent with many of the findings in psycholinguistics on metaphor understanding, and can account for aspects of metaphor understanding that no other theory can explain. (shrink)
Cognitive theories of metaphor understanding are typically described in terms of the mappings between different kinds of abstract, schematic, disembodied knowledge. My claim in this paper is that part of our ability to make sense of metaphorical language, both individual utterances and extended narratives, resides in the automatic construction of a simulation whereby we imagine performing the bodily actions referred to in the language. Thus, understanding metaphorical expressions like ‘grasp a concept’ or ‘get over’ an emotion involve simulating what it (...) must be like to engage in these specific activities, even though these actions are, strictly speaking, impossible to physically perform. This process of building a simulation, one that is fundamentally embodied in being constrained by past and present bodily experiences, has specific consequences for how verbal metaphors are understood, and how cognitive scientists, more generally, characterize the nature of metaphorical language and thought. (shrink)
Language serves many purposes in our individual lives and our varied interpersonal interactions. Daniel Everett's claim that language primarily emerges from an “interactional instinct“ and not a classic “language instinct“ gives proper weight to the importance of coordinated communication in meeting our adaptive needs. Yet the argument that language is a “cultural tool“, motivated by an underlying “instinct“, does not adequately explain the complex, yet complementary nature of both linguistic regularities and variations in everyday speech. Our alternative suggestion is that (...) language use, and coordinated communication more generally, is an emergent product of human self-organization processes. Both broad regularities and specific variations in linguistic structure and behavior can be accounted for by self-organizational processes that operate without explicit internal rules, blueprints, or mental representations. A major implication of this view is that both linguistic patterns and behaviors, within and across speakers, emerge from the dynamical interactions of brain, body, and world, which gives rise to highly context-sensitive and varied linguistic performances. (shrink)
Taxation and government policy related to it have only episodic appearance in classical Protestant ethical sources. Of the early sixteenth century reformers, Luther gave most attention to the subject, justifying taxation in general as necessary for the just service of government to the public good and calling the princes to spend tax monies for that good rather than their own luxury. Calvin made much the same claims but called more clearly for official church scrutiny of all government than did Luther. (...) Two centuries later John Wesley criticized English tax policy, appealing to standards of economic efficiency and compassion for the poor with little reference overtly to theology. The churches of colonial and post-revolutionary America developed no systematic, theologically rooted rationale for taxation ethics, either; but official Protestant denominational concern for such ethics has grown measurably in the most recent fifteen years. After a survey of these recent national church statements, and on the basis of them and the slender Protestant heritage on this issue, we end by posing four questions which we see as worthy of much serious thinking by contemporary American Protestant ethicists and church bodies. (shrink)
The study of metaphor is now firmly established as a central topic within cognitive science and the humanities. We marvel at the creative dexterity of gifted speakers and writers for their special talents in both thinking about certain ideas in new ways, and communicating these thoughts in vivid, poetic forms. Yet metaphors may not only be special communicative devices, but a fundamental part of everyday cognition in the form of 'conceptual metaphors'. An enormous body of empirical evidence from cognitive linguistics (...) and related disciplines has emerged detailing how conceptual metaphors underlie significant aspects of language, thought, cultural and expressive action. Despite its influence and popularity, there have been major criticisms of conceptual metaphor. This book offers an evaluation of the arguments and empirical evidence for and against conceptual metaphors, much of which scholars on both sides of the wars fail to properly acknowledge. (shrink)
In this article, I explicate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s account of emancipatory history and activism by examining the influence of G. W. F. Hegel’s account of world-historical individuals on his thought. Both thinkers, I argue, affirm that history’s spiritual destiny works through individuals who are driven by the contingencies of their subjective character and given situation to undertake particular actions, and yet who nevertheless freely and decisively break the new from the old by forsaking subjective satisfaction to spur events forward (...) to a more rational state of affairs. This synthetic unity of abstract freedom and concrete embodiment reflects the ‘civil war’ between the universal and infinite essence, and particular and finite passions, that King and Hegel identify as equally constitutive of human will. Through an examination of King’s account of Rosa Parks’ pivotal arrest, I develop the consequences of this ‘Hegelian’ view for our understanding of political action and historical progress. (shrink)
(2005). George R. Lucas, Jr. & W. Rick Rubel's (Eds) Ethics and the Military Profession: The Moral Foundations of Leadership and Case Studies in Military Ethics. Journal of Military Ethics: Vol. 4, No. 3, pp. 214-219. doi: 10.1080/15027570500197453.