Imagining Metaphors: Cognitive Representation in Interpretation and Understanding

Brouwer, Elisabeth Catherine

Interpretation of poetic text involves subjective representations of meaning, that are considered normally to lie outside the scope of a truth conditional semantics, or semantic theories on propositional meaning; hence, the scarce occasions where poetic text is mentioned in semantic theory, usually exclude it from the realm of semantic interpretation. One aspect of poetic interpretation concerns an al legorical, or metaphorical understanding of the text. Since the semantic literature on metaphorical interpretation is abundant, I at first restrain the topic of poetic interpretation to the metaphorical interpretation of poetic text, and consider to what extent theories on metaphor help explain it. I consider first semantic perspectives , and then cognitive perspectives on metaphor. Throughout the discussion of different theories, I focus on possible implications for the metaphorical interpretation of poetic text. In this discussion, it becomes clear that virtually all the theories discussed relate metaphorical interpretation to the use of imagination, or sometimes more specifically to the work of productive imagination. However, none of the accounts discussed relates the role of imagination in metaphorical interpretation to its possible role in the conceptual understanding of common, non-poetic use of language. Hence, it seems as if metaphors require an entirely different t ype of interpretation than other utterances.

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