Ecological cognition and metaphor

Thomas Wiben Jensen*, Linda Greve


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    In this article, we argue for the need to incorporate the study of metaphor to further incorporate the study of metaphor wih the newest tendencies within cognitive science. We do so by presenting an ecological view of cognition as a skull-and-body-transcending activity that is deeply entangled with the environment. Grounded in empirical examples we present and examine four claims fleshing out this ecological perspective on cognition and metaphor: (a) metaphor is a product of an organism–environment-system, rather than merely a product of an inner mental process, (b) metaphoric meaning is relational. It emerges from projections of structure between a living organism and its perceived or imagined environment, (c) underlying metaphor is the notion of metaphoricity, which is a scalar value involving a doubleness in experience, and (d) metaphoricity relies on experiential affordances that can be directly perceived or felt in the environment. Overall, we propose that metaphor should be understood and thought about in terms of affordances rather than mental ability. Studying metaphor as affordances is to focus on metaphor as part of our active doings that equally involve cognitive, social, and linguistic dimensions. Within an ecological framework, there is no contradiction between studying the details of linguistic, multimodal, and embodied behavior in situational contexts while considering the cognitive dimensions of this behavior too since cognition is re-conceptualized as constituted by actions in an environment.
    TidsskriftMetaphor and Symbol
    Udgave nummer1
    Sider (fra-til)1-16
    StatusUdgivet - 2. maj 2019


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