Dissertation
Dissertation > Philosophy, religion > Psychology > Psychological processes and mental state > Cognitive

The Epistemological Meaning of Conceptual Metaphor

Author HanTaiXiang
Tutor AnJun
School Shanxi University
Course Foreign Philosophy
Keywords Conceptual metaphor Cognition Neural theory The embodied mind Epistemological meaning
CLC B842.1
Type Master's thesis
Year 2011
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Conceptual metaphor has caused a considerable concern of cognitive science and philosophy of cognition, and the development of brain science has proved the presumption of conceptual metaphor—the brain is the source of thinking. Based on the view of philosophy of cognition, this thesis explores the nature, types, and cognitive function of conceptual metaphor, and tries to explain the epistemological meaning of conceptual metaphors.The emergence of conceptual metaphor is the logical result with the development of cognitive science. First-generation cognitive science created the computer metaphor, believing that thinking is independent.Thus the computer metaphor launched the first cognitive revolution, and since then cognitive scientists and philosophers began to apply a computer model to human thought, which exerted positive influence at that time. However, the shortcomings of the computer metaphor appeared with the advances in cognitive science. Lakoff and Johnson began to divert the attention of cognitive science to the people themselves. They believed that thinking was not independent of the physical existence of the body, but caused by the interaction between the brain, body and external things.Conceptual metaphor is based on the first generation of cognitive science and Reddy’s conduit metaphor theory. Conceptual metaphor can be accurately represented as T is S (the source and target domains mapping).Conceptual metaphor can be divided into conventional and novel metaphors by type. Conventional metaphors include orientational metaphor, ontological metaphor and structural metaphor, among which orientational metaphor and ontological metaphor are the direct from body experience. However, their number is limited and not enough to build the conceptual system we depend on for survival. Nevertheless, the structural metaphor can solve the problem. The structural metaphor is used to explain an unknown concept, especially an abstraction, with a known concept we are familiar with by various means. The novel metaphor refers to the part not used in the process of mapping, which will gradually replace the outdated conventional metaphor and become a new conventional metaphor, with the development of society and culture.Conceptual metaphor affects our way of life, for the source of metaphor is the brain. However, when Lakoff and Johnson created it in 1980, they ignored the role of cranial nerves. Lakoff did not re-examine the conceptual metaphor theory until the discovery of neuron theory. The experiments witnessed the human perception of daily life affected different neurons and that these neurons were connected with each other. Therefore, when we use metaphors to explain things, the source neurons will be activated, and look for the target neurons, then analyze, match and feedback to the brain, and finally get the end result. This is the metaphor process.Using the neural theory to stimulate process of metaphoric theory is the logical result of epistemology in philosophy of cognition. On the one hand, it proves some of the irrational computer metaphoric theory and the default conceptual metaphor; on the other hand, it paves the way for cognitive science.

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