Mark had found that most traditional philosophical views permit metaphor little, if any, role in understanding our world and ourselves. George had discovered linguistic evidence showing that metaphor is pervasive in everyday language and thought—evidence that did not fit any contemporary Anglo-American theory of meaning within either linguistics or philosophy. Metaphor has traditionally been viewed in both fields as a matter of peripheral interest. We shared the intuition that it is, instead, a matter of central concern, perhaps the key to giving an adequate account of understanding.
Shortly after we met, we decided to collaborate on what we thought would be a brief paper giving some linguistic evidence to point up shortcomings in recent theories of meaning. Within a week we discovered that certain assumptions of contemporary philosophy and linguistics that have been taken for granted within the Western tradition since the Greeks precluded us from even raising the kind of issues we wanted to address. The problem was not one of extending or patching up some existing theory of meaning ((ix)) (x)) but of revising central assumptions in the Western philosophical tradition. In particular, this meant rejecting the possibility of any objective or absolute truth and a host of related assumptions. It also meant supplying an alternative account in which human experience and understanding, rather than objective truth, played the central role. In the process, we have worked out elements of an experientialist approach, not only to issues of language, truth, and under-standing but to questions about the meaningfulness of our everyday experience.
Berkeley, California July 1, 1979(( ((Xi)) Acknowledgments Ideas don’t come out of thin air. The general ideas in this book represent a synthesis of various intellectual traditions and show the influence of our teachers, colleagues, stu-dents, and friends. In addition, many specific ideas have come from discussions with literally hundreds of people. We cannot adequately acknowledge all of the traditions and people to whom we are indebted. All we can do is to list some of them and hope that the rest will know who they are and that we appreciate them.
The following are among the sources of our general ideas. John Robert Ross and Ted Cohen have shaped our ideas about linguistics, philosophy, and life in a great many ways. Pete Becker and Charlotte Linde have given us an appreciation for the way people create coherence in their lives. Charles Fillmore’s work on frame semantics, Terry Winograd’s ideas about knowledgerepresentation systems, and Roger Schank’s conception of scripts provided the basis for George’s original conception of linguistic gestalts, which we have generalized to experiential gestalts.
Our views about family resemblances, the prototype theory of categorization, and fuzziness in categorization come from Ludwig Wittgenstein, Eleanor Rosch, Lotfi Zadeh, and Joseph Goguen. Our observations about how a language can reflect the conceptual system of its speakers derive in great part from the work of Edward Sapir, Benjamin Lee Whorf, and others who have worked in that tradition. Our ideas about the relationship between metaphor and ritual derive from the anthropological tradition of Bronislaw ((xii)) Malinowski, Claude Levi-Strauss, Victor Turner, Clifford Geertz, and others.
Our ideas about the way our conceptual system is shaped by our constant successful functioning in the physical and cultural environment come partly from the tradition of research in human development begun by Jean Piaget and partly from the tradition in ecological psychology growing out of the work of J. J. Gibson and James Jenkins, particularly as represented in the work of Robert Shaw, Michael Turvey, and others. Our views about the nature of the human sciences have been significantly influenced by Paul Ricoeur, Robert McCauley, and the Continental tradition in philosophy.
Sandra McMorris Johnson, James Melchert, Newton and Helen Harrison, and David and Ellie Antin have enabled us to see the common thread in aesthetic experience and other aspects of our experience. Don Arbitblit has focused our attention on the political and economic implications of our ideas. Y. C. Chiang has allowed us to see the relationship between bodily experience and modes of viewing oneself and the world. We also owe a very important debt to those contemporary figures who have worked out in great detail the philosophical ideas we are reacting against.
We respect the work of Richard Montague, Saul Kripke, David Lewis, Donald Davidson, and others as important contributions to the traditional Western conceptions of meaning and truth. It is their clarification of these traditional philosophical concepts that has enabled us to see where we diverge from the tradi-tion and where we preserve elements of it. Our claims rest largely on the evidence of linguistic examples. Many if not most of these have come out of discussions with colleagues, students, and friends. John Robert Ross, in particular, has provided a steady stream of examples via phone calls and postcards.
The bulk of the examples in chapters 16 and 17 came from Claudia Brug-man, who also gave us invaluable assistance in the preparalion of the manuscript. Other examples have come from )on Arbitblit, George Bergman, Dwight Bolinger, Ann Iiorkin, Matthew Bronson, Clifford Hill, D. K. Houlgate Ill, Dennis Love, Tom Mandel, John Manley-Buser, Monica Macauley, James D. McCawley, William Nagy, Reza Nilipoor, Geoff Nunberg, Margaret Rader, Michael Reddy, Ron Silliman, Eve Sweetser, Marta Tobey, Karl Zimmer, as well as various students at the University of California, Berkeley, and at the San Francisco Art Institute.
Many of the individual ideas in this work have emerged from informal discussions. We would particularly like to thank Jay Atlas, Paul Bennaceraf, Betsy Brandt, Dick Brooks, Eve Clark, Herb Clark, J. W. Coffman, Alan Rundes, Glenn Erickson, Charles Fillmore, James Geiser, Leanne Hinton, Paul Kay, Les Lamport, David Lewis, George McClure, George Rand, John Searle, Dan Slobin, Steve Tainer, Len Talmy, Elizabeth Warren, and Bob Wilensky. ((3)) 1. Concepts We Live By Metaphor is for most people a device of the poetic imagination and the rhetorical flourish—a matter of extraordinary rather than ordinary language.
Moreover, metaphor is typieully viewed as characteristic of language alone, a matter of words rather than thought or action. For this reason, most people think they can get along perfectly well without metaphor. We have found, on the contrary, that metaphor is pervasive in everyday life, not just in language but in thought and action. Our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature. The concepts that govern our thought are not just matters of the intellect. They also govern our everyday functioning, down to the most mundane details.
Our concepts structure what we perceive, how we get around in the world, and how we relate to other people. Our conceptual system thus plays a central role in defining our everyday realities. If we are right in suggesting that our conceptual system is largely metaphorical, then the way we think, what we experience, and what we do every day is very much a matter of metaphor. But our conceptual system is not something we are normally aware of. In most of the little things we do every day, we simply think and act more or less automatically along certain lines.
Just what these lines are is by no means obvious. One way to find out is by looking at language. Since communication is based on the same conceptual system that we use in thinking and acting, language is an important source of evidence for what that system is like. ((4)) Primarily on the basis of linguistic evidence, we have found that most of our ordinary conceptual system is metaphorical in nature. And we have found a way to begin to identify in detail just what the metaphors are that structure how we perceive, how we think, and what we do.
To give some idea of what it could mean for a concept to be metaphorical and for such a concept to structure an everyday activity, let us start with the concept ARGUMENT and the conceptual metaphor ARGUMENT IS WAR. This metaphor is reflected in our everyday language by a wide variety of expressions: ARGUMENT IS WAR Your claims are indefensible. He attacked every weak point in my argument. His criticisms were right on target. I demolished his argument. I’ve never won an argument with him. You disagree? Okay, shoot! If you use that strategy, he’ll wipe you out. He shot down all of my arguments.
It is important to see that we don’t just talk about arguments in terms of war. We can actually win or lose arguments. We see the person we are arguing with as an opponent. We attack his positions and we defend our own. We gain and lose ground. We plan and use strategies. If we find a position indefensible, we can abandon it and take a new line of attack. Many of the things we do in arguing are partially structured by the concept of war. Though there is no physical battle, there is a verbal battle, and the structure of an argument—attack, defense, counterattack, etc. —reflects this.
It is in this sense that the ARGUMENT IS WAR metaphor is one that we live by in this culture; it structures the actions we perform in arguing. Try to imagine a culture where arguments are not viewed in terms of war, where no one wins or loses, where there is no sense of attacking or defending, gaining or losing ((5)) ground. Imagine a culture where an argument is viewed as a dance, the participants are seen as performers, and the goal is to perform in a balanced and aesthetically pleasing way. In such a culture, people would view arguments differently, experience them differently, carry them out differently, and talk about them differently.
But we would probably not view them as arguing at all: they would simply be doing something different. It would seem strange even to call what they were doing “arguing. ” Perhaps the most neutral way of describing this difference between their culture and ours would be to say that we have a discourse form structured in terms of battle and they have one structured in terms of dance. This is an example of what it means for a metaphorical concept, namely, ARGUMENT IS WAR, to structure (at least in part) what we do and how we understand what we are doing when we argue.
The essence of metaphor is under-standing and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another. It is not that arguments are a subspecies of war. Arguments and wars are different kinds of things—verbal discourse and armed conflict—and the actions performed are different kinds of actions. But ARGUMENT is partially structured, understood, performed, and talked about in terms of WAR. The concept is metaphorically structured, the activity is metaphorically structured, and, consequently, the language is metaphorically structured. Moreover, this is he ordinary way of having an argument and talking about one. The normal way for us to talk about attacking a position is to use the words “attack a position. ” Our conventional ways of talking about arguments pre-suppose a metaphor we are hardly ever conscious of. The metaphor is not merely in the words we use—it is in our very concept of an argument. The language of argument is not poetic, fanciful, or rhetorical; it is literal. We talk about arguments that way because we conceive of them that way—and we act according to the way we conceive of things. ((6))
The most important claim we have made so far is that metaphor is not just a matter of language, that is, of mere words. We shall argue that, on the contrary, human thought processes are largely metaphorical. This is what we mean when we say that the human conceptual system is metaphorically structured and defined. Metaphors as linguistic expressions are possible precisely because there are metaphors in a person’s conceptual system. Therefore, whenever in this book we speak of metaphors, such as ARGUMENT IS WAR, it should be understood that metaphor means metaphorical concept. ((7)) 2.
The Systematicity of Metaphorical Concepts Arguments usually follow patterns; that is, there are certain things we typically do and do not do in arguing. The fact Iliac we in part conceptualize arguments in terms of battle Mystematically influences the shape arguments take and the way we talk about what we do in arguing. Because the metaphorical concept is systematic, the language we use to talk about that aspect of the concept is systematic. We saw in the ARGUMENT IS WAR metaphor that expressions from the vocabulary of war, e. g. , attack a position, indefensible, strategy, new line of attack, win, gain ground, tc. , form a systematic way of talking about the battling aspects of arguing. It is no accident that these expressions mean what they mean when we use them to talk about arguments. A portion of the conceptual network of battle partially characterizes the concept of an argument, and the language follows suit. Since metaphorical expressions in our language are tied to metaphorical concepts in a systematic way, we can use metaphorical linguistic expressions to study the nature of metaphorical concepts and to gain an understanding of the metaphorical nature of our activities.
To get an idea of how metaphorical expressions in every-day language can give us insight into the metaphorical na-ture of the concepts that structure our everyday activities, let us consider the metaphorical concept TIME IS MONEY as it is reflected in contemporary English. TIME IS MONEY You’re wasting my time. This gadget will save you hours. ((8)) I don’t have the time to give you. How do you spend your time these days? That flat tire cost me an hour. I’ve invested a lot of time in her. I don’t have enough time to spare for that. You’re running out of time. You need to budget your time.
Put aside some time for ping pong. Is that worth your while? Do you have much time left? He’s living on borrowed time. You don’t use your time profitably. I lost a lot of time when I got sick. Thank you for your time. Time in our culture is a valuable commodity. It is a limited resource that we use to accomplish our goals. Because of the way that the concept of work has developed in modern Western culture, where work is typically associated with the time it takes and time is precisely quantified, it has become customary to pay people by the hour, week, or year.
In our culture TIME IS MONEY in many ways: tele-phone message units, hourly wages, hotel room rates, yearly budgets, interest on loans, and paying your debt to society by “serving time. ” These practices are relatively new in the history of the human race, and by no means do they exist in all cultures. They have arisen in modern industrialized societies and structure our basic everyday activities in a very profound way. Corresponding to the fact that we act as if time is a valuable commodity—a limited resource, even money—we conceive of time that way.
Thus we understand and experience time as the kind of thing that can be spent, wasted, budgeted, invested wisely or poorly, saved, or squandered. TIME IS MONEY, TIME IS A LIMITED RESOURCE, and TIME IS A VALUABLE COMMODITY are all metaphorical concepts. They are metaphorical since we are using our everyday experiences with money, limited resources, and valuable ((9)) •lttmnodities to conceptualize time. This isn’t a necessary Why for human beings to conceptualize time; it is tied to our vtllture. There are cultures where time is none of these things.
The metaphorical concepts TIME IS MONEY, TIME IS A Nlfsot)CE, and TIME IS A VALUABLE COMMODITY form a Mingle system based on subcategorization, since in our soci-Mly money is a limited resource and limited resources are Valuable commodities. These subcategorization relation-Nhlps characterize entailment relationships between the Metaphors. TIME IS MONEY entails that TIME IS A LIMITED tltl5OURCE, which entails that TIME IS A VALUABLE COMMOUITY. We are adopting the practice of using the most specific Metaphorical concept, in this case TIME IS MONEY, to characterize the entire system.
Of the expressions listed tinder the TIME IS MONEY metaphor, some refer specifically to money (spend, invest, budget, profitably, cost), others to limited resources (use, use up, have enough of, run out of), and still others to valuable commodities (have, give, lose, /hank you for). This is an example of the way in which metaphorical entailments can characterize a coherent system of metaphorical concepts and a corresponding coherent system of metaphorical expressions for those concepts. ((10)) 3. Metaphorical Systematicity: Highlighting and Hiding
The very systematicity that allows us to comprehend one aspect of a concept in terms of another (e. g. , comprehend-ing an aspect of arguing in terms of battle) will necessarily hide other aspects of the concept. In allowing us to focus on one aspect of a concept (e. g. , the battling aspects of arguing), a metaphorical concept can keep us from focusing on other aspects of the concept that are inconsistent with that metaphor. For example, in the midst of a heated argument, when we are intent on attacking our opponent’s position and defending our own, we may lose sight of the cooperative aspects of arguing.
Someone who is arguing with you can be viewed as giving you his time, a valuable commodity, in an effort at mutual understanding. But when we are preoccupied with the battle aspects, we often lose sight of the cooperative aspects. A far more subtle case of how a metaphorical concept can hide an aspect of our experience can be seen in what Michael Reddy has called the “conduit metaphor. ” Reddy observes that our language about language is structured roughly by the following complex metaphor: IDEAS (Or MEANINGS) ARE OBJECTS. LINGUISTIC EXPRESSIONS ARE CONTAINERS.
COMMUNICATION IS SENDING. The speaker puts ideas (objects) into words (containers) and sends them (along a conduit) to a hearer who takes the idea/objects out of the word/containers. Reddy documents this with more than a hundred types of expressions in English, which he estimates account for at least 70 percent of ((10)) HIGHLIGHTING AND HIDING the expressions we use for talking about language. Here are some examples: The CONDUIT Metaphor It’s hard to get that idea across to him. I gave you that idea. Your reasons came through to us. It’s difficult to put my ideas into words.
When you have a good idea, try to capture it immediately in words. Try to pack more thought into fewer words. You can’t simply stuff ideas into a sentence any old way. The meaning is right there in the words. Don’t force your meanings into the wrong words. His words carry little meaning. The introduction has a great deal of thought content. Your words seem hollow. The sentence is without meaning. The idea is buried in terribly dense paragraphs. In examples like these it is far more difficult to see that there is anything hidden by the metaphor or even to see that there is a metaphor here at all.
This is so much the conventional way of thinking about language that it is some-times hard to imagine that it might not fit reality. But if we look at what the CONDUIT metaphor entails, we can see some of the ways in which it masks aspects of the communieative process. First, the LINGUISTIC EXPRESSIONS ARE CONTAINERS FOR MEANINGS aspect of the CONDUIT metaphor entails that words and sentences have meanings in themselves, in-dependent of any context or speaker. The MEANINGS ARE OBJECTS part of the metaphor, for example, entails that meanings have an existence independent of people and con-texts.
The part of the metaphor that says LINGUISTIC EXPRESSIONS ARE CONTAINERS FOR MEANING entails that words (and sentences) have meanings, again independent of contexts and speakers. These metaphors are appropriate in many situations—those where context differences don’t ((12)) matter and where all the participants in the conversation understand the sentences in the same way. These two entailments are exemplified by sentences like The meaning is right there in the words, which, according to the CONDUIT metaphor, can correctly be said of any sentence.
But there are many cases where context does matter. Here is a celebrated one recorded in actual conversation by Pamela Downing: Please sit in the apple juice seat. In isolation this sentence has no meaning at all, since the expression “apple juice seat” is not a conventional way of referring to any kind of object. But the sentence makes perfect sense in the context in which it was uttered. An overnight guest came down to breakfast. There were four place settings, three with orange juice and one with apple juice. It was clear what the apple juice seat was.
And even the next morning, when there was no apple juice, it was still clear which seat was the apple juice seat. In addition to sentences that have no meaning without context, there are cases where a single sentence will mean different things to different people. Consider: We need new alternative sources of energy. This means something very different to the president of Mobil Oil from what it means to the president of Friends of the Earth. The meaning is not right there in the sentence—it matters a lot who is saying or listening to the sentence and what his social and political attitudes are.
The CONDUIT metaphor does not fit cases where context is required to determine whether the sentence has any meaning at all and, if so, what meaning it has. These examples show that the metaphorical concepts we have looked at provide us with a partial understanding of what communication, argument, and time are and that, in doing this, they hide other aspects of these concepts. It is ((13)) important to see that the metaphorical structuring involved here is partial, not total. If it were total, one concept would actually be the other, not merely be understood in terms of it.
For example, time isn’t really money. If you spend your time trying to do something and it doesn’t work, you can’t get your time back. There are no time banks. I can give you a lot of time, but you can’t give me back the same time, though you can give me back the same amount of time. And so on. Thus, part of a metaphorical concept does not and cannot fit. On the other hand, metaphorical concepts can be ex-tended beyond the range of ordinary literal ways of thinking and talking into the range of what is called figurative, poetic, colorful, or fanciful thought and language.
Thus, if ideas are objects, we can dress them up in fancy clothes, juggle them, line them up nice and neat, etc. So when we say that a concept is structured by a metaphor, we mean that it is partially structured and that it can be extended in some ways but not others. ((14)) 4. Orientational Metaphors So far we have examined what we will call structural metaphors, cases where one concept is metaphorically structured in terms of another. But there is another kind of metaphorical concept, one that does not structure one concept in terms of another but instead organizes a whole system of concepts with respect to one another.
We will call these orientational metaphors, since most of them have to do with spatial orientation: up-down, in-out, frontback, on-off, deep-shallow, central-peripheral. These spatial orientations arise from the fact that we have bodies of the sort we have and that they function as they do in our physical environment. Orientational metaphors give a concept a spatial orientation; for example, HAPPY IS UP. The fact that the concept HAPPY is oriented uP leads to English expressions like “I’m feeling up today. ” Such metaphorical orientations are not arbitrary. They have a basis in our physical and cultural experience.
Though the polar oppositions up-down, in-out, etc. , are physical in nature, the orientational metaphors based on them can vary from culture to culture. For example, in some cultures the future is in front of us, whereas in others it is in back. We will be looking at up-down spatialization metaphors, which have been studied intensively by William Nagy (1974), as an illustration. In each case, we will give a brief hint about how each metaphorical concept might have arisen from our physical and cultural experience. These accounts are meant to be suggestive and plausible, not definitive. ((15)) ORIENTATIONAL METAPHORS HAPPY IS UP; SAD IS DOWN
I’m feeling up. That boosted my spirits. My spirits rose. You’re in high spirits. Thinking about her always gives me a lift. I’m feeling down. I’m depressed. He’s really low these days. I fell into a depression. My spirits sank. Physical basis: Drooping posture typically goes along with sadness and depression, erect posture with a positive emotional state. CONSCIOUS IS UP; UNCONSCIOUS IS DOWN Get up. Wake up. I’m up already. He rises early in the morning. He fell asleep. He dropped off to sleep. He’s under hypnosis. He sank into a coma. Physical basis: Humans and most other mammals sleep lying down and stand up when they awaken.
HEALTH AND LIFE ARE UP; SICKNESS AND DEATH ARE DOWN He’s at the peak of health. Lazarus rose from the dead. He’s in top shape. As to his health, he’s way up there. He fell ill. He’s sinking fast. He came down with the flu. His health is declining. He dropped dead. Physical basis: Serious illness forces us to lie down physically. When you’re dead, you are physically down. HAVING CONTROl. Or FORCE IS UP; BEING SUBJECT TO CONTROL Or FORCE IS DOWN I have control over her. I am on top of the situation. He’s in a superior position. He’s at the height of his power. He’s in the high command. He’s in the upper echelon. His power rose.
He ranks above me in strength. He is under my control. He fell from power. His power is on the decline. He is my social inferior. He is low man on the totem pole. Physical basis: Physical size typically correlates with physical strength, and the victor in a fight is typically on top. MORE IS UP; LESS IS DOWN The number of books printed each year keeps going up. His i 16 CHAPTER FOUR draft number is high. My income rose last year. The amount of artistic activity in this state has gone down in the past year. The number of errors he made is incredibly low. His income fell last year. He is underage. If you’re too hot, turn the heat down.
Physical basis: If you add more of a substance or of physical objects to a container or pile, the level goes up. FORESEEABLE FUTURE EVENTS ARE UP (and AHEAD) All up coming events are listed in the paper. What’s coming up this week? I’m afraid of what’s up ahead of us. What’s up? Physical basis: Normally our eyes look in the direction in which we typically move (ahead, forward). As an object approaches a person (or the person approaches the object), the object appears larger. Since the ground is perceived as being fixed, the top of the object appears to be moving upward in the person’s field of vision. HIGH STATUS IS UP; LOW STATUS IS DOWN
He has a lofty position. She’ll rise to the top. He’s at the peak of his career. He’s climbing the ladder. He has little upward mobility. He’s at the bottom of the social hierarchy. She fell in status. Social and physical basis: Status is correlated with (social) power and (physical) power is uP. GOOD IS UP; BAD IS DOWN Things are looking up. We hit a peak last year, but it’s been downhill ever since. Things are at an all-time low. He does high-quality work. Physical basis for personal well-being: Happiness, health, life, and control—the things that principally characterize what is good for a person—are all uP.
VIRTUE IS UP; DEPRAVITY IS DOWN He is high-minded. She has high standards. She is upright. She is an upstanding citizen. That was a low trick. Don’t be ((17)) underhanded. I wouldn’t stoop to That was a low-down thing to do. that. That would be beneath me. He fell into the abyss of depravity. Physical and social basis: GOOD IS UP for a person (physical basis), together with a metaphor that we will discuss below, SOCIETY IS A PERSON (in the version where you are not identifying with your society). To be virtuous s to act in accordance with the standards set by the society/person to maintain its well-being. VIRTUE IS UP because virtuous actions correlate with social well-being from the society/ person’s point of view. Since socially based metaphors are part of the culture, it’s the society/person’s point of view that counts. RATIONAL IS UP; EMOTIONAL IS DOWN The discussion fell to the emotional level, but I raised it back up to the rational plane. We put our feelings aside and had a high-level intellectual discussion of the matter. He couldn’t rise above his emotions.
Physical and cultural basis: In our culture people view themselves as being in control over animals, plants, and their physical environment, and it is their unique ability to reason that places human beings above other animals and gives them this control. CONTROL IS UP thus provides a basis for MAN IS UP and therefore for RATIONAL IS UP. Conclusions On the basis of these examples, we suggest the following conclusions about the experiential grounding, the coherence, and the systematicity of metaphorical concepts: —Most of our fundamental concepts are organized in terms of one or more spatialization metaphors. There is an internal systematicity to each spatialization metaphor. For example, HAPPY IS UP defines a coherent system rather than a number of isolated and random cases. (An example of an incoherent system would be one where, say, “I’m ((18)) feeling up” meant “I’m feeling happy,” but “My spirits rose” meant “I became sadder. “) —There is an overall external systematicity among the various spatialization metaphors, which defines coherence among them. Thus, GOOD IS UP gives an uP orientation to general well-being, and this orientation is coherent with special cases like HAPPY IS UP, HEALTH IS UP, ALIVE IS UP, CONTROL IS UP.
STATUS IS UP iS coherent with CONTROL IS UP. —Spatialization metaphors are rooted in physical and cultural experience; they are not randomly assigned. A metaphor can serve as a vehicle for understanding a concept only by virtue of its experiential basis. (Some of the complexities of the experiential basis of metaphor are discussed in the following sec-tion. ) —There are many possible physical and social bases for metaphor. Coherence within the overall system seems to be part of the reason why one is chosen and not another.
For example, happiness also tends to correlate physically with a smile and a general feeling of expansiveness. This could in principle form the basis for a metaphor HAPPY IS WIDE; SAD IS NARROW. And in fact there are minor metaphorical expressions, like “I’m feeling expansive,” that pick out a different aspect of happiness than “I’m feeling up” does. But the major metaphor in our culture is HAPPY IS UP; there is a reason why we speak of the height of ecstasy rather than the breadth of ecstasy. HAPPY IS UP is maximally coherent with GOOD IS UP, HEALTHY IS UP, etc. In some cases spatialization is so essential a part of a concept that it is difficult for us to imagine any alternative metaphor that might structure the concept. In our society “high status” is such a concept. Other cases, like happiness, are less clear. Is the concept of happiness independent of the HAPPY IS UP metaphor, or is the up-down spatialization of happiness a part of the concept? We believe that it is a part of the concept within a given conceptual system. The HAPPY IS UP metaphor places happiness within a coherent metaphorical system, and part of its meaning comes from its role in that system. So-called purely intellectual concepts, e. g. , the concepts in a ((19)) scientific theory, are often—perhaps always—based on metaphors that have a physical and/or cultural basis. The high in “high-energy particles” is based on MORE IS UP. The high in “high-level functions,” as in physiological psychology, is based on RATIONAL IS UP. The low in “low-level phonology” (which refers to detailed phonetic aspects of the sound systems of languages) is based on MUNDANE REALITY IS DOWN (as in “down to earth”). The intuitive appeal of a scientific theory has to do with how well its metaphors fit one’s experience.
Our physical and cultural experience provides many possible bases for spatialization metaphors. Which ones are chosen, and which ones are major, may vary from culture to culture. It is hard to distinguish the physical from the cultural basis of a metaphor, since the choice of one physical basis from among many possible ones has to do with cultural coherence. Experiential Bases of Metaphors We do not know very much about the experiential bases of metaphors. Because of our ignorance in this matter, we have described the metaphors separately, only later adding speculative notes on their possible experiential bases.
We are adopting this practice out of ignorance, not out of principle. In actuality we feel that no metaphor can ever he comprehended or even adequately represented independently of its experiential basis. For example, MORE IS UP has a very different kind of experiential basis than HAPPY IS UP or RATIONAL IS UP. Though the concept up is the same in all these metaphors, the experiences on which these uP metaphors are based are very different. It is not that there are many different ups; rather, verticality enters our experience in many different ways and so gives rise to many different metaphors.
One way of emphasizing the inseparability of metaphors from their experiential bases would be to build the experiential basis into the representations themselves. Thus, in-stead of writing MORE IS UP and RATIONAL Is UP, we might have the more complex relationship shown in the diagram. ((20)) ((figure slettet)) Such a representation would emphasize that the two parts of each metaphor are linked only via an experiential basis and that it is only by means of these experiential bases that the metaphor can serve the purpose of understanding.
We will not use such representations, but only because we know so little about experiential bases of metaphors. We will continue to use the word “is” in stating metaphors like MORE IS UP, but the is should be viewed as a shorthand for some set of experiences on which the metaphor is based and in terms of which we understand it. The role of the experiential basis is important in under-standing the workings of metaphors that do not fit together because they are based on different kinds of experience. Take, for example, a metaphor like UNKNOWN IS UP; KNOWN IS DOWN. Examples are “That’s up in the air” and “The matter is settled. ” This etaphor has an experiential basis very much like that of UNDERSTANDING IS GRASPING, as in “I couldn’t grasp his explanation. ” With physical objects, if you can grasp something and hold it in your hands, you can look it over carefully and get a reasonably good understanding of it. It’s easier to grasp something and look at it carefully if it’s on the ground in a fixed location than if it’s floating through the air (like a leaf or a piece of paper). Thus UNKNOWN IS UP; KNOWN IS DOWN 1S coherent with UNDERSTANDING IS GRASPING. ((21)) But UNKNOWN IS UP is not coherent with metaphors like GOOD Is UP and FINISHED IS UP (as in “I’m finishing up”).
One would expect FINISHED to be paired with KNOWN and UNFINISHED to be paired with UNKNOWN. But, so far as verticality metaphors are concerned, this is not the case. The reason is that UNKNOWN IS UP has a very different experiential basis than FINISHED Is UP. ((22)) 5. Metaphor and Cultural Coherence The most fundamental values in a culture will be coherent with the metaphorical structure of the most fundamental concepts in the culture. As an example, let us consider some cultural values in our society that are coherent with our UP-DOWN spatialization metaphors and whose opposites would not be. “More is better” with them. s coherent with MORE IS UP and GOOD IS UP. “Less is better” is not coherent “Smaller is “Bigger is better” is coherent with coherent with them. The future will be better” worse” is not. is MORE IS UP and GOOD IS UP. better” is not coherent with THE FUTURE IS UP and GooD Is UP. The future will be “There will be more in the future” is coherent with “Your status should be higher in the future” HIGH STATUS IS UP and THE FUTURE IS UP. is MORE IS UP and THE FUTURE IS UP. coherent with These are values deeply embedded in our culture. The future will be better” is a statement of the concept of progress. There will be more in the future” has as special cases the accumulation of goods and wage inflation. “Your status should be higher in the future” is a statement of careerism. These are coherent with our present spatialization metaphors; their opposites would not be. So it seems that our values are not independent but must form a coherent system with the metaphorical concepts we live by. We are not claiming that all cultural values coherent with a ((23)) metaphorical system actually exist, only that those that do exist and are deeply entrenched are consistent with the metaphorical system.
The values listed above hold in our culture generally—all things being equal. But because things are usually not equal, there are often conflicts among these values and hence conflicts among the metaphors associated with them. To explain such conflicts among values (and their metaphors), we must find the different priorities given to these values and metaphors by the subculture that uses them. For instance, MORE IS UP seems always to have the highest priority since it has the clearest physical basis. The priority of MORE IS UP over GOOD IS UP can be seen in examples like “Inflation is rising” and “The crime rate is going up. Assuming that inflation and the crime rate are bad, these sentences mean what they do because MORE IS up always has top priority. In general, which values are given priority is partly a matter of the subculture one lives in and partly a matter of personal values. The various subcultures of a mainstream culture share basic values but give them different priorities. For example, BIGGER IS BETTER may be in conflict with THERE WILL BE MORE IN THE FUTURE when it comes to the question of whether to buy a big car now, with large time payments that will eat up future salary, or whether to buy a smaller, heaper car. There are American subcultures where you buy the big car and don’t worry about the future, and there are others where the future comes first and you buy the small car. There was a time (before inflation and the energy crisis) when owning a small car had a high status within the subculture where VIRTUE IS UP and SAVING RESOURCES IS VIRTUOUS took priority over BIGGER IS BETTER. Nowadays the number of small-car owners has gone up drastically because there is a large subculture where SAV-ING MONEY IS BETTER has priority over BIGGER IS BETTER.
In addition to subcultures, there are groups whose defining characteristic is that they share certain important values ((24)) that conflict with those of the mainstream culture. But in less obvious ways they preserve other mainstream values. Take monastic orders like the Trappists. There LESS IS BET-TER and SMALLER IS BETTER are true with respect to material possessions, which are viewed as hindering what is important, namely, serving God. The Trappists share the mainstream value VIRTUE IS UP, though they give it the highest priority and a very different definition.
MORE is still BETTER, though it applies to virtue; and status is still uP, though it is not of this world but of a higher one, the Kingdom of God. Moreover, THE FUTURE WILL BE BETTER is true in terms of spiritual growth (uP) and, ultimately, salvation (really uP). This is typical of groups that are out of the mainstream culture. Virtue, goodness, and status may be radically redefined, but they are still uP. It is still better to have more of what is important, THE FUTURE WILL BE BETTER with respect to what is important, and so on.
Relative to what is important for a monastic group, the value system is both internally coherent and, with respect to what is important for the group, coherent with the major orientational metaphors of the mainstream culture. Individuals, like groups, vary in their priorities and in the ways they define what is good or virtuous to them. In this sense, they are subgroups of one. Relative to what is important for them, their individual value systems are coherent with the major orientational metaphors of the main-stream culture. Not all cultures give the priorities we do to up-down orientation.
There are cultures where balance or centrality plays a much more important role than it does in our culture. Or consider the nonspatial orientation active-passive. For us ACTIVE IS UP and PASSIVE IS DOWN in most matters. But there are cultures where passivity is valued more than activity. In general the major orientations up-down, in-out, central-peripheral, active-passive, etc. , seem to cut across all cultures, but which concepts are oriented which way and which orientations are most important vary from culture to culture. ((25)) 6 Ontological Metaphors
Entity and Substance Metaphors Spatial orientations like up-down, front-back, on-off, center-periphery, and near-far provide an extraordinarily rich basis for understanding concepts in orientational terms. But one can do only so much with orientation. Our experience of physical objects and substances provides a further basis for understanding—one that goes beyond mere orientation. Understanding our experiences in terms of objects and substances allows us to pick out parts of our experience and treat them as discrete entities or substances of a uniform kind.
Once we can identify our experiences as entities or substances, we can refer to them, categorize them, group them, and quantify them—and, by this means, reason about them. When things are not clearly discrete or bounded, we still categorize them as such, e. g. , mountains, street corners, hedges, etc. Such ways of viewing physical phenomena are needed to satisfy certain purposes that we have: locating mountains, meeting at street corners, trimming hedges. Human purposes typically require us to impose artificial boundaries that make physical phenomena discrete just as we are: entities bounded by a surface.
Just as the basic experiences of human spatial orientations give rise to orientational metaphors, so our experiences with physical objects (especially our own bodies) provide the basis for an extraordinarily wide variety of ontological metaphors, that is, ways of viewing events, activities, emotions, ideas, etc. , as entities and substances. Ontological metaphors serve various purposes, and the ((26)) various kinds of metaphors there are reflect the kinds of purposes served. Take the experience of rising prices, which can be metaphorically viewed as an entity via the noun inflation.
This gives us a way of referring to the experience: INFLATION IS AN ENTITY Inflation is lowering our standard of living. If there’s much more inflation, we’ll never survive. We need to combat inflation. Inflation is hacking us into a corner. Inflation is taking its toll at the checkout counter and the gas pump. Buying land is the best way of dealing with inflation. Inflation makes me sick. In these cases, viewing inflation as an entity allows us to refer to it, quantify it, identify a particular aspect of it, see it as a cause, act with respect to it, and perhaps even believe that we understand it.
Ontological metaphors like this are necessary for even attempting to deal rationally with our experiences. The range of ontological metaphors that we use for such purposes is enormous. The following list gives some idea of the kinds of purposes, along with representative examples of ontological metaphors that serve them. Referring My fear of insects is driving my wife crazy. That was a beautiful catch. We are working toward peace. The middle class is powerful silent force in American politics. The honor of our country is at stake in this war. Quantifying It will take a lot of patience to finish this book.
There is so much hatred in the world. DuPont has a lot of political power in Delaware. You’ve got too much hostility in you. ((27)) Pete Rose has a lot of hustle and baseball know-how. Identifying Aspects The ugly side of his personality comes out under pressure. The brutality of war dehumanizes us all. I can’t keep up with the pace of modern life. His emotional health has deteriorated recently. We never got to feel the thrill of victory in Vietnam. Identifying Causes The pressure of his responsibilities caused his breakdown. He did it out of anger. Our influence in the world has declined because of our lack of moral . fiber.
Internal dissension cost them the pennant. Setting Goals and Motivating Actions He went to New York to seek fame and fortune. Here’s what you have to do to insure financial security. I’m changing my way of life so that I can find true happiness. The FBI will act quickly in the face of a threat to national security. She saw getting married as the solution to her problems. As in the case of orientational metaphors, most of these expressions are not noticed as being metaphorical. One reason for this is that ontological metaphors, like orientational metaphors, serve a very limited range of purposes—referring, quantifying, etc.
Merely viewing a nonphysical thing as an entity or substance does not allow us to comprehend very much about it. But ontological metaphors may be further elaborated. Here are two examples of how the ontological metaphor THE MIND IS AN ENTITY IS elaborated in our culture. THE MIND IS A MACHINE We’re still trying to grind out the solution to this equation. My mind just isn’t operating today. Boy, the wheels are turning now! I’m a little rusty today. We’ve been working on this problem all day and now we’re running out of steam. ((28)) THE MIND IS A BRITTLE OBJECT Her ego is very fragile.
You have to handle him with care since his wife’s death. He broke under cross-examination. She is easily crushed. The experience shattered him. I’m going to pieces. His mind snapped. These metaphors specify different kinds of objects. They give us different metaphorical models for what the mind is and thereby allow us to focus on different aspects of mental experience. The MACHINE metaphor gives us a conception of the mind as having an on-off state, a level of efficiency, a productive capacity, an internal mechanism, a source of energy, and an operating condition.
The BRITTLE OBJECT metaphor is not nearly as rich. It allows us to talk only about psychological strength. However, there is a range of mental experience that can be conceived of in terms of either metaphor. The examples we have in mind are these: He broke down. (THE MIND IS A MACHINE) He cracked up. (THE MIND IS A BRITTLE OBJECT) But these two metaphors do not focus on exactly the same aspect of mental experience. When a machine breaks down, it simply ceases to function. When a brittle object shatters, its pieces go flying, with possibly dangerous consequences.
Thus, for example, when someone goes crazy and becomes wild or violent, it would be appropriate to say “He cracked up. ” On the other hand, if someone becomes lethargic and unable to function for psychological reasons, we would be more likely to say “He broke down. ” Ontological metaphors like these are so natural and so pervasive in our thought that they are usually taken as self-evident, direct descriptions of mental phenomena. The fact that they are metaphorical never occurs to most of us. We take statements like “He cracked under pressure” as being directly true or false. This expression was in fact used by (29)) various journalists to explain why Dan White brought his gun to the San Francisco City Hall and shot and killed Mayor George Moscone. Explanations of this sort seem perfectly natural to most of us. The reason is that metaphors like THE MIND IS A BRITTLE OBJECT are an integral part of the model of the mind that we have in this culture; it is the model most of us think and operate in terms of. Container Metaphors Land Areas We are physical beings, bounded and set off from the rest of the world by the surface of our skins, and we experience the rest of the world as outside us.
Each of us is a container, with a bounding surface and an in-out orientation. We project our own in-out orientation onto other physical objects that are bounded by surfaces. Thus we also view them as containers with an inside and an outside. Rooms and houses are obvious containers. Moving from room to room is moving from one container to another, that is, moving out of one room and into another. We even give solid objects this orientation, as when we break a rock open to see what’s inside it. We impose this orientation on our natural environment as well.
A clearing in the woods is seen as having a bounding surface, and we can view ourselves as being in the clearing or out of the clearing, in the woods or out of the woods. A clearing in the woods has something we can perceive as a natural boundary—the fuzzy area where the trees more or less stop and the clearing more or less begins. But even where there is no natural physical boundary that can be viewed as defining a container, we impose boundaries—marking off territory so that it has an inside and a bounding surface—whether a wall, a fence, or an abstract line or plane.
There are few human instincts more basic than territoriality. And such defining of a territory, putting a boundary around it, is an act of quantification. ((30)) Bounded objects, whether human beings, rocks, or land areas, have sizes. This allows them to be quantified in terms of the amount of substance they contain. Kansas, for example, is a bounded area— a CONTAINER—which is why we can say, “There’s a lot of land in Kansas. ” Substances can themselves be viewed as containers. Take a tub of water, for example. When you get into the tub, you get into the water.
Both the tub and the water are viewed as containers, but of different sorts. The tub is a CONTAINER OBJECT, while the water is a CONTAINER SUB-STANCE. The Visual Field We conceptualize our visual field as a container and conceptualize what we see as being inside it. Even the term “visual field” suggests this. The metaphor is a natural one that emerges from the fact that, when you look at some territory (land, floor space, etc. ), your field of vision defines a boundary of the territory, namely, the part that you can see.
Given that a bounded physical space is a CONTAINER and that our field of vision correlates with that bounded physical space, the metaphorical concept VISUAL FIELDS ARE CONTAINERS emerges naturally. Thus we can say: The ship is coming into view. I have him in sight. I can’t see him—the tree is in the way. He’s out of sight now. That’s in the center of my field of vision. There’s nothing in sight. I can’t get all of the ships in sight at once. Events, Actions, Activities, and States We use ontological metaphors to comprehend events, actions, activities, and states.
Events and actions are conceptualized metaphorically as objects, activities as sub-stances, states as containers. A race, for example, is an event, which is viewed as a discrete entity. The race exists ((31)) in space and time, and it has well-defined boundaries. Hence we view it as a CONTAINER OBJECT, having in it participants (which are objects), events like the start and finish (which are metaphorical objects), and the activity of running (which is a metaphorical substance). Thus we can say of a race: Are you in the race on Sunday? (race as CONTAINER OBJECT) Are you going to the race? race as OBJECT) Did you see the race? (race as OBJECT) The finish of the race was really exciting. (finish as EVENT OBJECT within CONTAINER OBJECT) There was a lot of good running in the race. (running as a SUBSTANCE in a CONTAINER) I couldn’t do much sprinting until the end. (sprinting as SUBSTANCE) Halfway into the race, I ran out of energy. (race as CONHe’s out of the race now. (race as CONTAINER OBJECT) TAINER OBJECT) STANCES Activities in general are viewed metaphorically as SUBand therefore as CONTAINERS: In washing the window, I splashed water all over the floor.
How did Jerry get out of washing the Outside of windows? washing the windows, what else did you do? Hoer much window-washing did you do? How did you get into window-washing as a profession? He’s immersed in washing the windows right now. Thus, activities are viewed as containers for the actions and other activities that make them up. They are also viewed as containers for the energy and materials required for them and for their by-products, which may be viewed as in them or as emerging from them: I put a lot of energy into washing the windows. I get a lot of satisfaction out of washing windows.
There is a lot of satisfaction in washing windows. Various kinds of states may also be conceptualized as containers. Thus we have examples like these: ((32)) He’s in love. We’re out of trouble now. He’s coming out of the coma. I’m slowly getting into shape. He entered a state of euphoria. He fell into a depression. He finally emerged from the catatonic state he had been in since the end of finals week. ((33)) 7. Personification Perhaps the most obvious ontological metaphors are those where the physical object is further specified as being a person.
This allows us to comprehend a wide variety of experiences with nonhuman entities in terms of human motivations, characteristics, and activities. Here are some examples: His theory explained to me the behavior of chickens raised in factories. This fact argues against the standard theories. Life has cheated me. Inflation is eating up our profits. His religion tells him that he cannot drink fine French wines. The Michelson-Morley experiment gave birth to a new Cancer physical theory. finally caught up with him. In each of these cases we are seeing something nonhuman as human.
But personification is not a single unified general process. Each personification differs in terms of the aspects of people that are picked out. Consider these examples. Inflation has attacked the foundation of our economy. Inflation has pinned us to the wall. Our biggest enemy right now is inflation. The dollar has been destroyed by inflation. Inflation has robbed me of my savings. Inflation has outwitted the best economic minds in the country. Inflation has given birth to a money-minded generation. Here inflation is personified, but the metaphor is not (34)) merely INFLATION IS A PERSON. It is much more specific, namely, INFLATION IS AN ADVERSARY. It not only gives us a very specific way of thinking about inflation but also a way of acting toward it. We think of inflation as an adversary that can attack us, hurt us, steal from us, even destroy us. The INFLATION IS AN ADVERSARY metaphor therefore gives rise to and justifies political and economic actions on the part of our government: declaring war on inflation, setting targets, calling for sacrifices, installing a new chain of command, etc.
The point here is that personification is a general category that covers a very wide range of metaphors, each picking out different aspects of a person or ways of looking at a person. What they all have in common is that they are extensions of ontological metaphors and that they allow us to make sense of phenomena in the world in human terms—terms that we can understand on the basis of our own motivations, goals, actions, and characteristics. Viewing something as abstract as inflation in human terms has an explanatory power of the only sort that makes sense to most people.
When we are suffering substantial economic losses due to complex economic and political factors that no one really understands, the INFLATION IS AN ADVERSARY metaphor at least gives us a coherent account of why we’re suffering these losses. ((35)) 8. Metonymy In the cases of personification that we have looked at we are imputing human qualities to things that are not human—theories, diseases, inflation, etc. In such cases there are no actual human beings referred to. When we say “Inflation robbed me of my savings,” we are not using the term “in-flation” to refer to a person.
Cases like this must be distinguished from cases like The ham sandwich is waiting for his check. where the expression “the ham sandwich” is being used to refer to an actual person, the person who ordered the ham sandwich. Such cases are not instances of personification metaphors, since we do not understand “the ham sandwich” by imputing human qualities to it. Instead, we are using one entity to refer to another that is related to it. This is a case of what we will call metonymy. Here are some further examples: He likes to read the Marquis de Sade. = the writings of the marquis) He’s in dance. (= the dancing profession) Acrylic has taken over the art world. (= the use of acrylic paint) The Times hasn’t arrived at the press conference yet. (= the reporter from the Times) Mrs. Grundy frowns on blue jeans. (= the wearing of blue jeans) New windshield wipers will satisfy him. (= the state of hav-ing new wipers) ((36)) We are including as a special case of metonymy what traditional rhetoricians have called synecdoche, where the part stands for the whole, as in the following. THE PART FOR THE WHOLE The automobile is clogging our highways. = the collection of automobiles) We need a couple of strong bodies for our team. (= strong people) There are a lot of good heads in the university. (= intelligent people) I’ve got a new set of wheels. (= car, motorcycle. etc. ) We need some new blood in the organization. (= new people) In these cases, as in the other cases of metonymy, one entity is being used to refer to another. Metaphor and. metonymy are different kinds of processes. Metaphor is principally a way of conceiving of one thing in terms of another, and its primary function is understanding.
Metonymy, on the other hand, has primarily a referential function, that is, it allows us to use one entity to stand. for another. But metonymy is not merely a referential device. It also serves the function of providing understanding. For example, in the case of the metonymy THE PART FOR THE WHOLE there are many parts that can stand for the whole. Which part we pick out determines which aspect of the whole we are focusing on. When we say that we need some good heads on the project, we are using “good heads” to refer to “intelligent people. The point is not just to use a part (head) to stand for a whole (person) but rather to pick out a particular characteristic of the person, namely, intelligence, which is associated with the head. The same is true of other kinds of metonymies. When we say The Times hasn’t arrived at the press conference yet,” we are using “The Times” not merely to refer to some reporter or other but also to suggest the importance of the institution the reporter represents. So “The Times has not yet arrived for the press conference” means something different from ((37)) Steve Roberts has not yet arrived for the press conference,” even though Steve Roberts may be the Tinnes reporter in question. Thus metonymy serves some of the same purposes that metaphor does, and in somewhat the same way, but it allows us to focus more specifically on certain aspects of what is being referred to. It is also like metaphor in that it is not just a poetic or rhetorical device. Nor is it just a matter of language. Metonymic concepts (like TEIE PART FOR THE WHOLE) are part of the ordinary, everyday way we think and act as well as talk.
For example, we have in our conceptual system a special case of the metonymy THE PART FOR THE WHOLE, namely, THE FACE FOR THE PERSON. For example: She’s just a pretty face. There are an nmrfirl lot o faces out there in the audience. We need some here. new fcices around This metonymy functions actively in our culture. The tradi-tion of portraits, in both painting and photography, is based on it. If you ask me to show you a picture of my son and I show you a picture of his face, you will be satisfied. You will consider yourself to have seen a picture of him.
But if I show you a picture of his body without his face, you will consider it strange and will not be satisfied. You might even ask, “But what does he look like? ” Thus the metonymy THE FACE FOR THE PERSON is not merely a matter of language. In our culture we look at a person’s face—rather than his posture or his movements—to get our basic information about what the person is like. We function in terms of a metonymy when we perceive the person in terms of his face and act on those perceptions. Like metaphors, metonymies are not random or arbitrary occurrences, to be treated as isolated instances.
Metonymic concepts are also systematic, as can be seen in the follow-ing representative examples that exist in our culture. ((38)) THE PART FOR THE WHOLE Get your butt over here! We don’t hire longhairs. The Giants need a stronger arm in right field. I’ve got a new four-on-the-floor V-8. I’ll have a Lohrenbrc u. He bought a Ford. He’s got a Picasso in his den. I hate to read Heidegger. The sax has the flu today. The BLT is a lousy tipper. PRODUCER FOR PRODUCT OBJECT USED FOR USER The gun he hired wanted fifty grand. We need a better,,’lolveat third base. The buses are on strike. ONTROI. 1. 1[R FOR CONTROI. I. FD Nixon bombed Hanoi. Ozawa gave a terrible concert last night. Napoleon lost at Waterloo. Casey Stengel won a lot of pennants. A Mercedes rear-ended inc. INSTITUTION FOR PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE Exxon has raised its prices again. You’ll never get the university to agree to that. The Army wants to reinstitute the draft. The Senate thinks abortion is immoral. I don’t approve of the government’s actions. The White House isn’t saying anything. Washington is insensitive to the needs of the people. The Kremlin threatened to boycott the next round of SALT talks.
Paris is introducing longer skirts this season. Hollywood isn’t what it used to be. Wall Street is in a panic. THE PLACE FOR THE INSTITUTION ((39)) THE PLACE FOR THE EVENT Let’s not let Thailand become’another Vietnam. Remember the Alamo. Pearl Harbor still has an effect on our foreign policy. Watergate changed our politics. It’s been Grand Central Station here all day. Metonymic concepts like these are systematic in the same way that metaphoric concepts are. The sentences given above are not random. They are instances of certain general metonymic concepts in terms of which we organize our thoughts and actions.
Metonymic concepts allow us to conceptualize one thing by means of its relation to some-thing else. When we think of a Picasso, we are not just thinking of a work of art alone, in and of itself. We think of it in terms of its relation to the artist, that is, his conception of art, his technique, his role in art history, etc. We act with reverence toward a Picasso, even a sketch he made as a teen-ager, because of its relation to the artist. This is a way in which the PRODUCER FOR PRODUCT metonymy affects both our thought and our action.
Similarly, when a waitress says The ham sandwich wants his check,” she is not interested in the person as a person hut only as a customer, which is why the use of such a sentence is dehumanizing. Nixon himself may not have dropped the bombs on Hanoi, but via the CONTROLLER FOR CONTROII ED metonymy we not only say “Nixon bombed Hanoi” but also think of him as doing the bombing and hold him responsible for it. Again this is possible because of the nature of the metonymic relationship in the CONTROLLER FOR CONTROLLED metonymy, where responsibility is what is focused on.
Thus, like metaphors, metonymic concepts structure not just our language but our thoughts, attitudes, and actions. And, like metaphoric concepts, metonymic concepts are grounded in our experience. In fact, the grounding of metonymic concepts is in general more obvious than is the case with metaphoric concepts, since it usually involves direct physical or causal associations. The PART FOR ((40)) metonymy, for example, emerges from our experiences with the way parts in general are related to wholes. PRODUCER FOR PRODUCT is based on the causal (and typically physical) relationship between a producer and his product.
THE PLACE FOR THE EVENT is grounded in our experience with the physical location of events. And so on. Cultural and religious symbolism are special cases of metonymy. Within Christianity, for example, there is the metonymy DOVE FOR HOLY SPIRIT. As is typical with metonymies, this symbolism is not arbitrary. It is grounded in the conception of the dove in Western culture and the conception of the Holy Spirit in Christian theology. There is a reason why the dove is the symbol of the Holy Spirit and not, say, the chicken, the vulture, or the ostrich.
The dove is conceived of as beautiful, friendly, gentle, and, above all, peaceful. As a bird, its natural habitat is the sky, which metonymically stands for heaven, the natural habitat of the Holy Spirit. The dove is a bird that flies gracefully, glides silently, and is typically seen coming out of the sky and landing among people. The conceptual systems of cultures and religions are metaphorical in nature. Symbolic metonymies are critical links between everyday experience and the coherent metaphorical systems that characterize religions and cultures.
Symbolic metonymies that are grounded in our physical experience provide an essential means of comprehending religious and cultural concepts. WHOLE ((41)) 9. Challenges to Metaphorical Coherence We have offered evidence that metaphors and metonymies are not random but instead form coherent systems in terms of which we conceptualize our experience. But it is easy to find apparent incoherences in everyday metaphorical expressions. We have not made a complete study of these, but those that we have looked at in detail have turned out not to be incoherent at all, though they appeared that way at first. Let us consider two examples.
An Apparent Metaphorical Contradiction Charles Fillmore has observed (in conversation) that English appears to have two contradictory organizations of time. In the first, the future is in front and the past is behind: In the weeks ahead of us… (future) That’s all behind us now. (past) In the second, the future is behind and the past is in front: In the following weeks … (future) In the preceding weeks… (past) This appears to be a contradiction in the metaphorical organization of time. Moreover, the apparently contradictory metaphors can mix with no ill effect, as in We’re looking ahead to the following weeks.
Here it appears that ahead organizes the future in front, while following organizes it behind. To see that there is, in fact, a coherence here, we first ((42)) have to consider some facts about front-back organization. Some things, like people and cars, have inherent fronts and backs, but others, like trees, do not. A rock may receive a front-back organization under certain circumstances. Sup-pose you are looking at a medium-sized rock and there is a ball between you and the rock—say, a foot away from the rock. Then it is appropriate for you to say “The ball is in front of the rock. The rock has received a front-back orientation, as if it had a front that faced you. This is not universal. There are languages—Hausa, for instance—where the rock would receive the reverse orientation and you would say that the ball was behind the rock if it was between you and the rock. Moving objects generally receive a front-back orientation so that the front is in the direction of motion (or in the canonical direction of motion, so that a car backing up retains its front). A spherical satellite, for example, that has no front while standing still, gets a ront while in orbit by virtue of the direction in which it is moving. Now, time in English is structured in terms of the TIME IS A MOVING OBJECT metaphor, with the future moving toward us: The time will come when .. . The time has long since gone when .. . The time for action has arrived. The proverb “Time flies” is an instance of the are facing toward the future, we get: TIME IS A MOVING OBJECT metaphor. Since we Coming up in the weeks ahead .. . I look forward to the arrival of Christmas. Before us is a great opportunity, and we don’t want it to pass us by.
By virtue of the TIME IS A MOVING OBJECT metaphor, time receives a front-back orientation facing in the direction of motion, just as any moving object would. Thus the future is ((43)) facing toward us as it moves toward us, and we find expressions like: I can’t face the future. The face of things to come .. . Let’s meet the future head-on. Now, while expressions like ahead of us, I look forward, and before us orient times with respect to people, expressions like precede and follow orient times with respect to times. Thus we get: Next week and the week following it. but not: The week following me ..
Since future times are facing toward us, the times following them are further in the future, and all future times follow the present. That is why the weeks to follow are the same as the weeks ahead of us. The point of this example is not merely to show that there is no contradiction but also to show all the subtle details that are involved: the TIME IS A MOVING OBJECT metaphor, the front-back orientation given to time by virtue of its being a moving object, and the consistent application of words like follow, precede, and face when applied to time on the basis of the metaphor.
All of this consistent detailed metaphorical structure is part of our everyday literal language about time, so familiar that we would normally not notice it. Coherence versus Consistency We have shown that the TIME IS A MOVING OBJECT metaphor has an internal consistency. But there is another way in which we conceptualize the passing of time: TIME IS STATIONARY AND WE MOVE THROUGH IT As we go through the years,. .. ((44)) As we go further into the 1980s, .. . We’re approaching the end of the year.
What we have here are two subcases of TIME PASSES us: in one case, we are moving and time is standing still; in the other, time is moving and we are standing still. What is in common is relative motion with respect to us, with the fu-ture in front and the past behind. That is, they are two subcases of the same metaphor, as shown in the accompanying diagram. From our point of view time goes past us, from front to back Time is a moving object and moves toward us Time is stationary and we move through it in the direction of the future This is another way of saying that they have a major corn-mon entailment.
Both metaphors entail that, from our point of view, time goes past us from front to back. Although the two metaphors are not consistent (that is, they form no single image), they nonetheless “fit together,” by virtue of being subcategories of a major category and therefore sharing a major common entailment. There is a difference between metaphors that are coherent (that is, “fit together”) with each other and those that are consistent. We have found that the connections between metaphors are more likely to involve coherence than consistency. As another example, let us take another metaphor: LOVE IS A JOURNEY
Look how far we’ve come. We’re at a crossroads. We’ll just have to go our separate ways. We can’t turn hack now. I don’t think this relationship is going anywhere. ((45)) Where are we? We’re stuck. It’s been a long, humpy road. This relationship is a dead-end street. We’re just spinning our wheels. Our marriage is on the rocks. We’ve gotten off the track. This relationship is foundering. Here the basic metaphor is that of a JOURNEY, and there are various types of journeys that one can make: a car trip, a train trip, or a sea voyage. JOURNEY Car trip Trai JOURNEY
Once again, there is no single consistent image that the metaphors all fit. What makes them coherent is that they are all JOURNEY metaphors, though they specify different means of travel. The same sort of thing occurs with the TIME IS A MOVING OBJECT metaphor, where there are various ways in which something can move. Thus, time flies, time creeps along, tirne speeds hy. In general, metaphorical concepts are defined not in terms of concrete images (flying, creeping, going down the road, etc. ), but in terms of more general categories, like passing. Trip ((46)) 10. Some Further Examples
We have been claiming that metaphors partially structure our everyday concepts and that this structure is reflected in our literal language. Before we can get an overall picture of the philosophical implications of these claims, we need a few more examples. In each of the ones that follow we give a metaphor and a list of ordinary expressions that are special cases of the metaphor. The English expressions are of two sorts: simple literal expressions and idioms that fit the metaphor and are part of the normal everyday way of talk-ing about the subject. THEORIES (and ARGUMENTS) ARE BUILDINGS Is that the foundation for your theory?
The theory needs more support. The argument is shaky. We need some more facts or the argument will fall apart. We need to construct strong argument for that. I haven’t figured out yet what the form of the argument will be. Here are some more facts to shore up the theory. We need to buttress the theory with solid arguments. The theory will stand on the strength of that argument. The argument collapsed. They exploded his latest theory. We will show that theory to be without foundation. So far we have put together only the framework of the theory. IDEAS ARE FOOD What he said left a had taste in my mouth.
All this paper has in it are raw facts, half-baked ideas, and harmed-over theories. There are too many facts here for me to digest them all. I just can’t swallow that claim. That argument smells fishy. Let me stew over that for a while. Now there’s a theory ((47)) you can really sink your teeth into. We need to let that idea percolate for a while. That’s food for thought. He’s a voracious reader. We don’t need to spoon-feed our students. He devoured the book. Let’s let that idea simmer on the back burner for a while. This is the meaty part of the paper. Let that idea jell for a while. That idea has been fermenting for years.
With respect to life and death IDEAS ARE PEOPLE IDEAS ARE ORGANISMS, either PEOPLE Or PLANTS. The theory of relativity gave birth to an enormous number of ideas in physics. He is the father of modern biology. Whose brainchild was that? Look at what his ideas have spawned. Those ideas died off in the Middle Ages. His ideas will live on forever. Cognitive psychology is still in its infancy. That’s an idea that ought to be resurrected. Where’d you dig up that idea? He breathed new life into that idea. IDEAS ARE PLANTS His ideas have finally come to fruition. That idea died on the vine. That’s a budding theory.
It will take years for that idea to come to fall flower. He views chemistry as a mere offshoot of physics. Mathematics has many branches. The seeds of his great ideas were planted in his youth. She has a. fertile imagination. Here’s an idea that I’d like to plant in your mind. He has a barren mind. IDEAS ARE PRODUCTS We’re really turning (churning, cranking, grinding) out new ideas. We’ve generated a lot of ideas this week. He produces new ideas at an astounding rate. His intellectual productivity has decreased in recent years. We need to take the rough edges off that idea, hone it down, smooth it out.
Its a rough idea; it needs to be refined. It’s important how you package your ideas. He won’t buy that. That idea just won’t sell. There is always a market for good ideas. That’s a worthless idea. He’s been a source of IDEAS ARE COMMODITIES ((48)) valuable ideas. I wouldn’t give a plugged nickel for that idea. Your ideas don’t have a chance in the intellectual marketplace. IDEAS ARE RESOURCES He ran out of ideas. Don’t waste your thoughts on small projects. Let’s pool our ideas. He’s a resourceful man. We’ve used up all our ideas. That’s a useless idea. That idea will go a long way. IDEAS ARE MONEY
Let me put in my two cents’ worth. He’s rich in ideas. That book is a treasure trove of ideas. He has a wealth of ideas. IDEAS ARE CUTTING INSTRUMENTS That’s an incisive idea. That cuts right to the heart of the matter. That was a cutting remark. He’s sharp. He has a razor wit. He has a keen mind. She cut his argument to ribbons. IDEAS ARE FASHIONS That idea went out of style years ago. I hear sociobiology is in these days. Marxism is currently ,fashionable in western Europe. That idea is old hat! That’s an outdated idea. What are the new trends in English criticism? Old-fashioned notions have no place in today’s society.
He keeps up-todate by read-ing the New York Review of Books. Berkeley is a center of avant-garde thought. Semiotics has become quite chic. The idea of revolution is no longer in vogue in the United States. The transformational grammar craze hit the United States in the mid-sixties and has just made it to Europe. UNDERSTANDING IS SEEING; IDEAS ARE LIGHT-SOURCES; DIS-COURSE IS A LIGHT-MEDIUM I see what you’re saying. It looks different from my point cif view. What is your outlook on that? I view it differently. Now I’ve got the whole picture. Let me point something out to you. That’s an insightful idea.
That was a brilliant remark. The argument is clear. It was a murky discussion. Could you elucidate your remarks? It’s a transparent argument. The discussion was opaque. ((49)) LOVE IS A PHYSICAL FORCE (ELECTROMAGNETIC, GRAVITATIONAL, etc. ) energy in their relationship. They lost their momentum. LOVE IS A PATIENT I could feel the electricity between us. There were sparks. I was magnetically drawn to her. They are uncontrollably attracted to each other. They gravitated to each other immediately. His whole life revolves around her. The atmosphere around them is always charged. There is incredible This is a sick relationship.
They have a. strong, healthy marriage. The marriage is dead—it can’t be revived. Their marriage is on the mend. We’re getting back on our feet. Their relationship is in really good shape. They’ve got a listless marriage. Their marriage is on its last legs. It’s a tired affair. LOVE IS MADNESS 1’m crazy about her. She drives inc out of my mind. He constantly raves about her. He’s gone mad over her. I’m just gild about Harry. I’m insane about her. She cast her spell over me. The magic is gone. I was spellbound. She had me hypnotized. He has me in a trance. I was entranced by him. I’m charmed by her. She is bewitch-ing.
LOVE. IS MAGIC LOVE IS WAR He is known for his many rapid conquests. She. fought for him, but his mistress iron out. He fled from her advances. She pursued him relentlessly. He is slowly gaining ground with her. He won her hand in marriage. He overpowered her. She is besieged by suitors. He has to fend them qff. He enlisted the aid of her friends. He made an ally of her mother. Theirs is a misalliance if I’ve ever seen one. WEALTH IS A HIDDEN OBJECT He’s seeking his fortune. He’s flaunting his newfound wealth. He’s a fortune-hunter. She’s a golddigger. He lost his fortune. He’s searching for wealth. ((50))
SIGNIFICANT IS BIG He’s a big man in the garment industry. He’s a giant among writers. That’s the biggest idea to hit advertising in years. He’s head and shoulders above everyone in the industry. It was only a small crime. That was only a little white lie. I was astounded at the enormity of the crime. That was one of the greatest moments in World Series history. His accomplishments tower over those of lesser men. SEEING IS TOUCHING; EYES ARE LIMBS I can’t take my eyes qff her. He sits with his eyes glued to the TV. Her eyes picked out every detail of the pattern. Their eyes met. She never moves her eyes from his face.
She ran her eyes over everything in the room. He wants everything within reach his eyes. THE EYES ARE CONTAINERS FOR THE EMOTIONS I could see the fear in his eyes. His eyes were filled with anger. There was passion in her eyes. His eyes displayed his compassion. She couldn’t get the fear out of her eyes. Love showed in his eyes. Her eyes gwith emotion. EMOTIONAL EFFECT IS PHYSICAL CONTACT His mother’s death hit him hard. That idea bowled me over. She’s a knockout. I was struck by his sincerity. That really made an impression on me. He made his mark on the world. I was touched by his remark. That blew me away.
PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL STATES ARE ENTITIES WITHIN A PERSON He has a pain in his shoulder. Don’t give me the flu. My cold has gone from my head to my chest. His pains went away. His depression returned. Hot tea and honey will get rid of your cough. He could barely contain his joy. The smile loft his face. Wipe that sneer off your face, private! His fears keep coming back. I’ve got to shake off this depression—it keeps hanging on. If you’ve got a cold, drinking lots of tea will flush it out of your system. There isn’t a trace of cowardice in him. He hasn’t got an honest hone in his body. ((51)) VITALITY IS A SUBSTANCE
She’s brimming with vim and vigor. She’s overflowing with vitality. He’s devoid of energy. I don’t have any energy left at the end of the day. I’m drained. That took a lot out of me. LIFE IS A CONTAINER I’ve had a full life. Life is empty for him. There’s not much left for him in life. Her life is crammed with activities. Get the most out of life. His life contained a great deal of sorrow. Live your life to the fullest. LIFE IS A GAMBLING GAME I’ll take my chances. The odds are against me. I’ve got an ace up my sleeve. He’s holding all the aces. It’s a toss-up. If you play your cards right, you can do it. He won big.
He’s a real loser. Where is he when the chips are down? That’s my ace in the hole. He’s bluffing. The president is playing it close to his vest. Let’s up the ante. Maybe we need to sweeten the pot. I think we should stand pat. That’s the luck of the dras,’. Those are high stakes. In this last group of examples we have a collection of what are called “speech formulas,” or “fixed-form expressions,” or “phrasal lexical items. ” These function in many ways like single words, and the language has thousands of them. In the examples given, a set of such phrasal lexical items is coherently structured by a single metaphorical concept.
Although each of them is an instance of the LIFE IS A GAMBLING GAME metaphor, they are typically used to speak of life, not of gambling situations. They are normal ways of talking about life situations, just as using the word “construct” is a normal way of talking about theories. It is in this sense that we include them in what we have called literal expressions structured by metaphorical concepts. If you say The odds are against us” or “We’ll have to take our chances,” you would not be viewed as speaking metaphorically but as using the normal everyday language appropriate to the situation.
Nevertheless, your way of talking about, conceiving, and even experiencing your situation would be metaphorically structured. ((52)) 11. Structuring The Partial Nature of Metaphorical Up to this point we have described the systematic character of metaphorically defined concepts. Such concepts are understood in terms of a number of different metaphors (e. g. , TIME IS MONEY, TIME IS A MOVING OBJECT, etc. ). The metaphorical structuring of concepts is necessarily partial and is reflected in the lexicon of the language, including the phrasal lexicon, which contains fixed-form expressions such as “to be without foundation. Because concepts are metaphorically structured in a systematic way, e. g. , THEORIES ARE BUILDINGS, it is possible for us to use expressions (construct, foundation) from one domain (BUILDINGS) to talk about corresponding concepts in the metaphorically defined domain (THEORIES). What foundation, for example, means in the metaphorically defined do-main (THEORY) will depend on the details of how the metaphorical concept THEORIES ARE BUILDINGS iS used to structure the concept THEORY. The parts of the concept BUILDING that are used to structure the concept THEORY are the foundation and the outer shell.
The roof, internal rooms, staircases, and hall-ways are parts of a building not used as part of the concept THEORY. Thus the metaphor THEORIES ARE BUILDINGS has a “used” part (foundation and outer shell) and an “un-used” part (rooms, staircases, etc. ). Expressions such as construct and foundation are instances of the used part of such a metaphorical concept and are part of our ordinary literal language about theories. But what of the linguistic expressions that reflect the ((53)) “unused” part of a metaphor like THEORIES ARE BUILD-INGS?
Here are four examples: His theory has thousands of little rooms and long, winding corridors. His theories are Bauhaus in their pseudofunctional simplicity. He prefers massive Gothic theories covered with gargoyles. Complex theories usually have problems with the plumbing. These sentences fall outside the domain of normal literal language and are part of what is usually called “figurative” or “imaginative” language. Thus, literal expressions (“He has constructed a theory”) and imaginative expressions (“His theory is covered with gargoyles”) can be instances of the same general metaphor (THEORIES ARE BUILDINGS).
Here we can distinguish three different subspecies of imaginative (or nonliteral) metaphor: Extensions of the used part of a metaphor, e. g. , “These facts are the bricks and mortar of my theory. ” Here the outer shell of the building is referred to, whereas the THEORIES ARE BUILDINGS metaphor stops short of mentioning the materials used. Instances of the unused part of the literal metaphor, e. g. , “His theory has thousands of little rooms and long, winding corridors. ” Instances of novel metaphor, that is, a metaphor not used to structure part of our normal conceptual system but as a new way of thinking about something, e. . , “Classical theories are patriarchs who father many children, most of whom fight incessantly. ” Each of these subspecies lies outside the used part of a metaphorical concept that structures our normal conceptual system. We note in passing that all of the linguistic expressions we have given to characterize general metaphorical concepts are figurative. Examples are TIME IS MONEY, TIME IS A MOVING OBJECT, CONTROL IS UP, IDEAS ARE FOOD, THEORIES ARE BUILDINGS, etc. None of these is literal. This ((54)) is a consequence of the fact that only part of them is used to structure our normal concepts.
Since they necessarily contain parts that are not used in our normal concepts, they go beyond the realm of the literal. Each of the metaphorical expressions we have talked about so far (e. g. , the time will come; we construct a theory, attack an idea) is used within a whole system of metaphorical concepts—concepts that we constantly use in living and thinking. These expressions, like all other words and phrasal lexical items in the language, are fixed by convention. In addition to these cases, which are parts of whole metaphorical systems, there are idiosyncratic metaphorical expressions that stand alone and are not used systematically in