PHV421en Metaphor: Selected Chapters

Faculty of Arts
Autumn 2018
Extent and Intensity
0/2/0. 6 credit(s). Type of Completion: zk (examination).
doc. Dr. phil. Jakub Mácha, Ph.D. (lecturer)
Guaranteed by
doc. Dr. phil. Jakub Mácha, Ph.D.
Department of Philosophy - Faculty of Arts
Supplier department: Department of Philosophy - Faculty of Arts
Wed 16:00–17:40 N43
Familiarity with English. This is an inter-disciplinary course (philosophy, literary studies, English studies, linguistics) suitable for exchange students.
Course Enrolment Limitations
The course is also offered to the students of the fields other than those the course is directly associated with.
Fields of study the course is directly associated with
there are 37 fields of study the course is directly associated with, display
Course objectives
The course will present various theories of metaphor from analytic philosophy and then scrutinize them on examples from every-day, philosophical and literary discourse.
Learning outcomes
At the end of the course, the student will be able to identify, analyze, determine, describe, compare main philosophical and linguistic theories of metaphor.
  • The course is schedule into ten classes. Readings marked bold should be completed before each class.
  • 1. Definition and Terminological Clarifications, Linguistic vs. Cognitive Metaphors
  • Definitions of metaphor vary from theory to theory, reflecting the different perspectives of theorists. Before we go into the details of these theories, a few pre-theoretic and historical considerations will be useful.
  • • Aristotle, Poetics, XIX-XXII (or Rhetorics, Ch. 2–4, 10, 11)
  • • Reimer, M. & Camp, E. (2006) Metaphor. In: Lepore, E. & Smith, B. (eds) Handbook of Philosophy of Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.845–863.
  • • Additional reading: Ricoeur, P. (1977) The Rule of Metaphor. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
  • 2. Theories of Linguistic Metaphor: Semantic Theories
  • Semantic theories of metaphor claim that metaphors have cognitive content that can be captured as a metaphorical meaning which is a kind of non-literal meaning. This metaphorical meaning is produced by the interaction of various inputs.
  • • Black, M. (1979) More about Metaphor. In: A. Ortony (ed.) Metaphor and Thought. 1st ed., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.14–43.
  • • Ricoeur, P. (1978) The Metaphorical Process as Cognition, Imagination, and Feeling. Critical Inquiry 5(1), pp.143–159.
  • • Additional reading: Stern, J. (2000) Metaphor in Context. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • 3. Theories of Linguistic Metaphor: Pragmatic Theories
  • The speech-act theory and Gricean pragmatics have proved to be a very suitable framework for explaining metaphor. Gricean pragmatics distinguishes between sentence meaning and speaker meaning. Within this theoretical framework, metaphorical utterances are cases of speaker meaning not sentence meaning. The core of a pragmatic theory of metaphor is to describe these inferential procedures.
  • • Grice, H. P. (1975) Logic and Conversation. In: P. Cole & J. L. Morgan (eds) Syntax and Semantics, Volume 3, Speech Acts. New York: Academic Press, pp.41–58.
  • • Searle, J. (1979) Metaphor. In: A. Ortony (ed.) Metaphor and Thought. 1st ed., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.92–123.
  • 4. Theories of Linguistic Metaphor: Contextualism and Relevance Theory
  • Contextualism in pragmatics is the view that pragmatic processes can have an impact on the truth-conditional content of the utterance. Even in the case of literal utterances, pragmatic processes like loosening and enrichment may be at work. The main claim of the contextualist theory of metaphor is that metaphor is an extreme kind of loose use.
  • • Bezuidenhout, A. (2001) Metaphor and What is Said: A Defense of a Direct Expression View of Metaphor. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 25(1), pp.156–86.
  • • Sperber, D. & Wilson, D. (2008) A Deflationary Account of Metaphors. In: R. Gibbs (ed.) The Cambridge Handbook of Metaphor and Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.84–105.
  • • Romero, E. & Soria, B. (2014) Relevance Theory and Metaphor. Linguagem em (Dis)curso 14(3), pp.489–509
  • • Additional reading: Carston, R. (2010) Metaphor: Ad hoc Concepts, Literal Meaning and Mental Images. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 110, pp.295–321.
  • 5. Theories of Linguistic Metaphor: Non-cognitivist Theories
  • Donand Davidson came up with a radical critique of all previous theories of metaphor. He claims: “metaphors mean what their words, in their most literal interpretation, mean, and nothing more.” This ultimately means that effects of a metaphor cannot be analyzed by the notion of the speaker’s or secondary meaning, because such meaning is propositional and conveys a cognitive content.
  • • Davidson, D. (1978) What Metaphors Mean. Critical Inquiry, 5(1), pp.31–47. Reprinted in Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1984, pp.245–264.
  • • Rorty, R. (1987) Unfamiliar Noises I: Hesse and Davidson on Metaphor. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 61(Supp.), pp.283–296.
  • • Camp, E. (2013) Metaphor and Varieties of Meaning. In: E. Lepore and K. Ludwig (eds) A Companion to Donald Davidson. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, pp.361–378.
  • • Additional reading: Lepore, E. & Stone, M. (2010) Against Metaphorical Meaning. Topoi 29(2), pp.165–180.
  • 6. Conceptual Metaphor Theory: Basics
  • The main claim Conceptual Metaphor Theory makes is that metaphors are a matter not only of language, but of thought in the first place. Conceptual Metaphor Theory thus distinguishes between conceptual metaphors, which operates at the level of thinking, and linguistic metaphors, which occur in language. Conceptual metaphor is defined as a mapping between two domains, the source domain, which is usually concrete, and the target domain, which tends to be more abstract.
  • • Lakoff, G. & Johnson, M. (1980/2003) Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • • Lakoff, G. (1993) The Contemporary Theory of Metaphor. In A. Ortony (ed.) Metaphor and Thought. 2nd edition, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.202–251.
  • 7. Conceptual Metaphor Theory: Further Development of Conceptual Metaphor Theory
  • At the end of the 1990s, several authors, including Lakoff, started to employ the results of neuroscience and cognitive science and use them as the basis of Conceptual Metaphor Theory. More specifically, Lakoff (2008) draws on the Neural Theory of Language, which is a kind of the Computational Theory of Mind, in order to develop his Neural Theory of Metaphor.
  • Conceptual Blending Theory, sometimes called Conceptual Integration, is another important offspring of Conceptual Metaphor Theory, although it draws on other sources as well. Instead of two domains, the Blending theory works with more mental spaces.
  • • Lakoff, G. (2008) The Neural Theory of Metaphor. In: R. Gibbs (ed.) The Cambridge Handbook of Metaphor and Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.17–38.
  • • Kövecses, Z. (2017) Conceptual Metaphor Theory. In: E. Semino & Z. Demjén (eds) The Routledge Handbook of Metaphor and Language. Oxon and New-York: Routledge, pp. 13–27.
  • • Additional reading: Gibbs, R. (2011) Evaluating Conceptual Metaphor Theory. Discourse Processes 48, pp.529–562.
  • 8. Conceptual Metaphor Theory: Debates and Criticisms
  • One line of criticism has been leveled against the very notion of conceptual metaphor. Another particular criticism has been targeted at the vagueness of the notion of domain. The problem of delimiting conceptual domains leads to the problem of putting constrains on metaphorical mappings. Another critique concerns the originality Conceptual Metaphor Theory.
  • • Romero, E. & Soria, B. (2005) Cognitive Metaphor Theory Revisited. Journal of Literary Semantics 34(1), pp.1–20.
  • • Pires de Oliveira, R. (2001) Language and Ideology. An interview with George Lakoff. In: R. Dirven, B. Hawkins & E. Sandikcioglu (eds) Language and Ideology, Vol. 1: Theoretical Cognitive Approaches. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp.23–47.
  • • McGlone, M. (2007) What is the explanatory value of a conceptual metaphor? Language and Communication 27, pp.109–126.
  • 9. Hybrid Theories and Other Accounts
  • One would prima facie prefer a unified theory (of metaphor, of figurative language, of meaning in general). No such theory has been found yet. This issue led to the rise of hybrid theories of metaphor. Some of them are picking certain aspects from other theories, but aiming at a unified account; other are more bifurcated highlighting differences among various kinds of metaphor.
  • • Lycan, W. (2013) An Irenic Idea about Metaphor. Philosophy 88(1), pp.5–32.
  • • Tendahl, M. (2009) A Hybrid Theory of Metaphor: Relevance Theory and Cognitive Linguistics. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
  • • Additional reading: White, R. (1996) The Structure of Metaphor: The Way the Language of Metaphor Works. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • 10. Seeing-As
  • Many authors have noticed a link between metaphor and visual perception. Aristotle says that for the right use of metaphor one needs to have “an eye for resemblances”. Black and Davidson conclude that metaphor is to be likened to seeing-as. In the metaphor “A is B” thus the subject A is seen as the predicate B. This “seeing-as” is (again) a metaphorical explanation of metaphor.
  • • Camp, E. (2003) Saying and seeing-as: the linguistic uses and cognitive effects of metaphor. Dissertation, University of California, Berkeley.
  • MÁCHA, Jakub. Conceptual Metaphor Theory and Classical Theory: Affinities Rather than Divergences. In Stalmaszczyk, Piotr. From Philosophy of Fiction to Cognitive Poetics. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2016. p. 93-115, 23 pp. Studies in Philosophy of Language and Linguistics. ISBN 978-3-631-66945-7. doi:10.3726/978-3-653-06564-0. URL info
  • KÖVECSES, Zoltán. Metaphor : a practical introduction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. xvi, 285. ISBN 0195145119. info
  • STERN, Josef. Metaphor in context. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2000. xvii, 385. ISBN 0262194392. info
  • WHITE, Roger M. The structure of metaphor : the way the language of metaphor works. 1st pub. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1996. vii, 349. ISBN 0631168117. info
  • Metaphor and thought. Edited by Andrew Ortony. Second edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993. xvi, 678. ISBN 0521405610. info
  • Metaphor and thought. Edited by Andrew Ortony. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979. ISBN 0521296269. info
Teaching methods
lectures, class discussion, reading, class presentation
Assessment methods
• In-class presentation of chosen text from the list above (25 %)
• Written essay on one of the ten topics from the list above; a more specific topic may be agreed on (to be submitted no later than on 15 February) (50 %)
• Class attendance (25 %)
Language of instruction
Further comments (probably available only in Czech)
Study Materials
The course is taught once in two years.

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