Metaphor Systems and the Window Myth. Mathias Madsen.

Abstract for AIM meeting 24 February 2012

Author: Mathias Madsen

Title: “Metaphor Systems and the Window Myth”

Abstract: How do we understand analogies? We can agree that “politics is like theatre,” but how do we know what that means?

Cognitive metaphor theory provides one answer: We communicate in metaphors because we think in metaphors. Analogies are used to carry knowledge over from concrete domains onto abstract ones. Communication just a shadow of that system at work.

I propose an alternative: Interpretation is more like strategic guessing, and analogies evolve meaning just like all other utterances do.

So instead of looking for “conceptual systems,” we should return to the only important question in communication: What did you mean when you said that?

This has profound consequences for metaphor theory: When we take the evidence seriously, the distinctions between metaphorical and literal, abstract and concrete, and immediate and mediated all turn out to be incoherent.

Mathias Madsen studied at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and holds a BA in mathematics (2005), and an MA in IT and Cognition (2010), the latter having close links to computational linguistics. He started his PhD, in which he will include pragmatic angles, at the University of Amsterdam in September 2011.

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