Annotated Bibliography Metaphors We Live and Die By: Using Conceptual Metaphor to Leverage Public Support for Initiation and Prosecution of the Iraq War Donald Weasenforth, English as a Second Language



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Annotated Bibliography

Metaphors We Live and Die By: Using Conceptual Metaphor to Leverage Public Support for Initiation and Prosecution of the Iraq War

Donald Weasenforth, English as a Second Language

Aristotle (1410 BC) Poetics. Translated by Whalley, G., J. Baxter & P. Atherton (Eds.). Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Barrett, F. & D. Cooperrider (2001) Generative metaphor intervention: A new approach for working with systems divided by conflict and caught in defensive perception. In D. Cooperrider, P. Sorensen, T. Yaeger & D. Whitney (Eds.) Appreciative inquiry: An emerging direction for organization development. Champaign, Il: Stipes.

Working from Schön’s theory of the generative cognitive nature of metaphor, Barrett and Cooperrider discuss the use of implicit metaphor to resolve conflict in dysfunctional social contexts. They present a case to demonstrate their point, that using metaphor in a socially therapeutic manner to reshape people’s understanding can decrease conflict, generate consensus, and solidify group efforts to focus on common goals. The authors articulate a step-by-step process for implementing this type of social therapy. Although this work is tangentially related to the study, it supports the claim that metaphor can be used shape human cognition and emotion.

Bates, B. (2004) Audiences, metaphors, and the Persian Gulf War. Communication studies, 55 (3), 447-464.

Bates examines George H. W. Bush's speeches used to garner international military support for U.S. involvement in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. He argues that in light of the international audience, Bush used the metaphor systems of Saddam-as-savage and world peace-as-civilization to justify U.S. invasion of Kuwait and Iraq. Bates provides evidence that the use of metaphors did play a role in persuading the international audience. Similar to his son’s concerns about multilateral action, George H. W. Bush was faced with the decision of whether to pursue unilateral or multilateral action against Hussein, with rather broad and significant implications for U.S. foreign policy in the balance. In contrast to assessments of his son’s decisions, international evaluations of George H. W. Bush’s prosecution of the Gulf War was by and large seen as adept in weighing options and maintaining a fragile coalition. Bates concludes that Bush’s metaphorical representation of the situation as an irrational attack against civilized societies was adopted by Bush’s international and domestic audiences, lending credibility and justification to his decisions to go to war.

Black, M. (1962) Models and metaphors. Ithica: NY: Cornell University Press.

Max Black in this and several essays offers a treatise of metaphor from a philosophical perspective. He discusses the dual reference system of metaphors as a tension between two systems (mappings of attributes of source and target domains in linguistic terms). He asserts that rather than highlighting similarities, metaphors create them based on lexical properties and an understanding of the world. Noting the dynamic nature of language, he sees metaphor as a sort of categorizing which entails reordering of thought leading to generation of new perspectives. His discussion of metaphor is motivated by a view of previous accounts of metaphor as simplistic reliance on comparison. Rather than a passive comparison, Black views metaphor as an interaction between concepts. He advances this argument by noting that metaphors’ influence can vary depending on the interpretive context, for example common every-day situations versus contexts more specifically related to the semantics of a metaphor. Perhaps the most significant aspect of Black’s discussion is his notion that metaphor contains “positive cognitive content” beyond the simple literal meaning accessible through a paraphrase of a metaphor. While dated, Black’s discussion provides insight into a respected treatment of the philosophical view of metaphor.

Blasko, D. & C. Connine (1993) Effects of familiarity and aptness on metaphor processing,

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 19, 295-308.

In this set of five experiments, Blasko and Connine investigate the variability in the rates of processing of literal utterances and familiar metaphors on one hand and that of unfamiliar and novel metaphors on the other hand. The last of the experiments was designed to identify the source of the variability. In general, the researchers found that unfamiliar and novel metaphors take significantly more time to process than literal phrases or familiar metaphors. From the last experiment, the researchers concluded that the differences in processing were due to emergent properties of the metaphors, not to lexical activation of the words in the metaphors. The relevance of this information to the study is the indication that metaphors are “psychologically real,” implying that the metaphors studied may have helped shape the public’s understanding of the pre-war situation and thereby their opinion.


Boroditsky, L. (2000) Metaphoric structuring: Understanding time through spatial metaphors. Cognition, 75 (1), 1-28.

Bolicki, J. (Producer). (2008). The road to war: Iraq [Motion picture]. USA: Warner Home Video.

This National Geographic video provides critical summary of events that led up to the Iraq War through original interviews with Andrew Card, Richard Armitage, and Richard Perle. The documentary focuses critically on the debate internal to the Bush administration about questionable intelligence. It corroborates much of the insight offered by Woodward and Tenet.

Burke, K. (1945) A grammar of motives. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Callies, M. & R. Zimmerman (2002) Cross cultural metaphors: Investing domain mapping across culture. A project report on the seminar "Metaphor in Communication and Foreign Language Teaching". Marburg, Germany: Philipps-Universität Marburg.

This research represents one of few investigations of cross-cultural differences in metaphors. Callies and Zimmerman looked specifically at differences in domain mappings and lexical use in metaphors in several European languages as well as Japanese and Chinese. A questionnaire and series of interviews were used to collect data for source domains related to the human body, life on earth, human inventions and personal interactions. Results indicate the occurrence of equivalence of metaphors in languages, mappings related to emotions and parts of the body being highly transferable.

Cameron, L. & G. Low (Eds.) (1999) Researching and applying metaphor. New York: Cambridge University Press.

This edited work provides useful suggestions for linguistic research in metaphor. It also provides a perspective on the various operationaizations of metaphor from various fields. Gerald Steen’s article was especially helpful in that it provides a checklist for analyses of metaphor. Although not the focus of my research, Cortazzi and Jin’s discussion of how metaphor can be used in pedagogical environments, through case studies is useful insight. They argue for multiple methods of research and note implications for findings to applied linguistics.

Charteris-Black, J. (2004) Corpus approaches to critical metaphor analysis. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Casasanto, D. (2009) When is a Linguistic Metaphor a Conceptual Metaphor? In V. Evans & S. Pourcel (Eds.) 127-145, New Directions in Cognitive Linguistics. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. [draft available at http://www.casasanto.com/Site/papers/Casasanto_Ling&ConceptMet.pdf]

Daniel Casasanto, professor and researcher at the Max Planck Institute, summarizes three experiments in which he investigates the influence of physical experience on human cognition. Specifically in these experiments he asked subjects to rate the similarity of word pairs and pictures while varying the spatial separation of the words and pictures. An opposite effect was found for pictures and metaphors. That is, when words (more abstract than pictures) were presented closer to each other, their similarity was rater higher. In contrast, the similarity of pictures was rated higher when they were presented farther apart. These findings support the notion that metaphors are psychologically real, but they also indicate that it is impossible to determine cognitive representations based on experimental use of linguistic stimuli. Casasanto tends toward a strong theory of metaphorical cognitive determinism. He summarizes other research that supports the theory that metaphors structure mental representations.
Chilton, P. & M. Ilyin (1993) Metaphor in political discourse: The case of the “common European house”. Discourse and society, 4 (1), 7-31.

Cohen, T., Fry, P., Stewart, S., Turner, F. & R. Warren (March 2008) The motive for metaphor, Roundtable discussion with Ted Cohen, Paul Fry, Susan Stewart, Frederick Turner, Rosanna Warren. Philoctetes Center: The Disciplinary Study of Imagination. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1WhOICr1bE .

This video, partly funded by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, offers a fascinating, thoroughly engaging multi-disciplinary discussion of metaphor, its structure and the ramifications for literature, cognition and practical applications. I found Ted Cohen’s contribution to the panel especially engaging, Cohen, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Chicago and author of Jokes: Philosophical Thoughts on Joking Matters and various essays about metaphor discusses the instantiation of metaphor in all aspects of life and in all disciplines, serving as a tool to push the boundaries of human knowledge. All the panelists address the role of metaphor in human behavior and cognition from the perspective of their own fields: philosophy, cognitive science, psychoanalysis, literary criticism, and literature. In addition to Cohen, the following professors served on the panel: Paul Fry from Yale University, Susan Stewart from Princeton University, Frederick Turner from the University of Texas at Dallas, and Rosanna Warren from Boston University.

Daalder, I. & J. Lindsay (2003) America unbound: The Bush revolution in foreign policy. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.

This work by Daalder and Lindsay is a very valuable source of information about how the George W. Bush administration developed its foreign policy during its first two and a half years. The authors go as far as to dub the changes “the Bush revolution.” They provide a helpful discussion of the historical intellectual roots of the administration’s policy and how it evolved as the administration dealt with 9/11, initiated the invasion of Iraq and prosecuted the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Daalder and Lindsay provide a slightly more hard-nosed portray of Bush than do Tenet and certainly Woodward. They clearly point out that Bush was the key decision-maker throughout 9/11 and the Iraq War. They also note that this hard-nosed, unilateralist approach has resulted in missteps, rancor toward the U.S. and a less secure nation. Pointing out the irony, they assert that the assumption that our nation’s security lay ultimately in our hands in fact led to its insecure status.

As Woodward and Tenet suggest, Bush was not adverse to audacious change. Daalder and Lindsay note this also, pointing to how the former president reshaped foreign policy, including the example of “the doctrine of preemption.” Bush held to the same goals and beliefs held for decades about how the U.S. should act in the world, but he “rejected all of the assumptions that had guided Washington’s approach to foreign affairs for more than half a century….The logic that underlay Bush’s foreign policy has its roots in a strain of realist political thinking best labeled hegemonist. At its most basic, the hegemonist argument contends that America’s immense power and the willingness to wield it, even over the objections of others, is the key to securing America’s interests in the world” (40).

Consistent with Woodward’s and Tenet’s discussions, Daalder and Lindsay describe the disagreement in the administration between the neocons/democratic imperialists (e.g., Wolfowitz and Perle) and the assertive nationalists (Bush and most of his foreign policy advisers). Their final assessment of the Bush administration’s foreign policy legacy is articulated in two quotations: “America is a feet-and-Fahrenheit power in a metric world.” (Pg. 189, New York Times columnist Bill Keller) and “[The U.S. is the] SUV of nations…It hogs the road and guzzles the gas and periodically has to run over something—such as another country—to get to its Middle Eastern filling station.”(Pg. 195, Journalist Mary McGrory: “Pit-Stop Presidency,” Washington Post, October 27, 2002).

Deutscher, G. (2005) The unfolding of language: An evolutionary tour of mankind’s greatest invention. New York: Metropolitan Books.

This work provides a general discussion of the diachronic development of language. Rather than describing changes to language, he discusses the mechanisms or “forces” that prompt the evolution and devolution of languages. He devotes two chapters to the generative nature of metaphor, noting it as a particularly prolific source of lexical generation. Deutscher’s discussion is interesting and well written but very general in nature, written for laymen.

Fauconnier, G. & M. Turner (2002) The way we think: Conceptual blending and the mind’s hidden complexities. New York: Basic Books.

Feldman, J. (2004) From molecules to metaphors: The neural theory of language. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Fernandez-Duque, D. & M. Johnson (1999) Attention metaphors: How metaphors guide the cognitive psychology of attention. Cognitive science, 23 (1), 83-116.

The authors provide a useful description of how metaphor has influenced the theory and practice of research of human attention. They chart the use of metaphors, such as mind-as-machine, mind-as-information processing device, and attention-as-spotlight, through literature in the field and make a compelling case for the claim that metaphors play a significant and prominent role in the field. As a caveat and as Schön cautions, researchers need to be critically aware of how metaphor guides theory and research so that it does not take undue control.


Ferrari, F. (2007) Metaphor at work in the analysis of political discourse: Investigating a ‘preventive war’ persuasion strategy. Discourse and society, 18 (5), 603-625.


Gannon, M. (2001) Cultural metaphors. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Gentner, D., Holyoak, K. & B. Kokinov (2001) The analogical mind: Perspectives from cognitive science. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Glucksberg, S. (2001) Understanding figurative language: From metaphors to idioms. Oxford Psychology Series, number 36. New York: Oxford University Press.

Glucksberg provides an engaging and useful discussion of how humans understand figurative language, including metaphors. His premise is that humans rely on two sets of operations in comprehending discourse, be it literal or figurative. One set includes linguistic operations, including grammatical analysis, lexical access, morphological analysis, etc. The other set, related to pragmatics, involves yet poorly defined skills involving the association of linguistic elements to the contexts in which the discourse occurs. The author reviews theories of metaphor throughout history from the fields of philosophy, psychology, anthropology, sociology, and linguistics. He continues by comparing various theories of metaphor processing, including the Substitution Theory and the Three-Step Theory (of Grice and Searle), basing his assessments on the: equivalency of characteristics, availability of replacement characteristics, nature of literal meaning, differences between literal and figurative meanings, and priority of literal versus figurative meanings. Some discussion is provided of empirical results that indicate the psychological reality of metaphors, results such as the variable speed-accuracy of processing. Glucksberg devotes a couple chapters to comparing metaphors to similes, and metonymy and synecdoche. A fair amount of time is spent in arguing that metaphors are class-inclusion assertions, “acts of classification that attribute (or deny, in the case of negations) an interrelated set of properties to their topics.”

The discussion of metaphor structure was interesting and useful. Glucksberg discusses the dual-reference function involving metaphor vehicle and metaphor topic. He elaborates on the metaphor dimensions, vehicle properties and topic dimensions. He notes the level of constraint that a metaphor topic imposes on the relation of characteristics, with high-constraining topics—those with relatively few attributional dimensions—allowing relatively few characteristics to be shared.

Glucksberg reserves that last chapter for a discussion of the relationship between metaphor and conceptual representation. He notes the weak and strong forms, the strong form being supported by Lakoff and Johnson (2003). He takes a more reasonable approach than do Lakoff and Johnson by pointing out that “metaphor plays a casual role in the structure of abstract concepts, but is not the sine qua non of their conceptual representation.”

Goatly, Andrew (1997) The language of metaphors. New York: Routledge.

Hartnett, S. & L. Stengrim (2004) The whole operation of deception: Reconstructing President Bush’s rhetoric of weapons of mass destruction. Cultural Studies—Critical Methodologies, 4 (2), 152-197.

Inhoff, A., Lima, S. & P. Carrol (1984) Contextual effects on metaphor comprehension in reading. Memory and cognition, 12. 558-567.

Inhoff, Lima and Carrol report on two experiments, the results of which support the notion that metaphors are psychologically real. They asked subjects to read a series of texts that varied in length and in priming material. They found that metaphorical and literal text was processed at about the same rate when the context was long, but metaphorical text took longer to process when the context was shorter. In the second study, they found that metaphorical texts were read more quickly when given a metaphorical context and literal text was processed more quickly when literally contextualized.

Ivie, R. (1987) Metaphor and the rhetorical invention of Cold War “idealists.” Communication monograph 54, 165-182.

Robert Ivie provides sets his investigation of metaphor against the fascinating backdrop of the Cold War, even more interestingly looking at how Henry Wallace, J. William Fulbright, and Helen Caldicott employed metaphor in an attempt to reverse the image of the USSR as the archenemy of the free world. Although their attempts failed, they provide an engaging case of the potential of metaphor to reconceptualize public opinion and understanding. As Schön pointed out, it may be impossible to reverse public opinion once it is engrained over a long period of time.

Ivie, R. & O. Giner (Dec 2007) Hunting the Devil: Democracy’s rhetorical impulse to war. Presidential studies quarterly, 37 (4), 580-598.

Kolodner, J. (Jan 1997) Educational implications of analogy: A view from case-based reasoning. American Psychologist, 52 (1), 57-66.

Kolodner argues that the key to case-based reasoning (CBR) is the use of analogy in resolving real-world problems, which provides a window on human cognition. She suggests that the use of analogy to address problems, especially problems that are not well defined or involve many unknowns, is a natural process and notes that students who exploit analogies well are more adept at resolving problems. She further suggests that a better understanding of this process could help refine pedagogical models. This work was not integrally related to my study, but it provided some insight into the pedagogical effectiveness of analogies, which include metaphors.

Kövecses, Z. (2002) Metaphor: A practical introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

This work by Kövecses provides a thorough and detailed discussion of metaphor structure. He first discusses basic properties of metaphors: 1) is a property of words, 2) used for artistic and rhetorical purposes, 3) is based on a resemblance between two entities, and 4) is conscious and deliberate use of words. He discusses the dual reference system of metaphor mappings, using the terms “source” and “target” domains. Like Lakoff, he also discusses the nature of conceptual metaphor (versus metaphorical linguistic expressions), but proposes categorizing this type of metaphor according to conventionality, function, nature, and level of generality. Similar to Lakoff, he distinguishes structural metaphors—which enable people to understand one thing in terms of another—from other types of conceptual metaphors, including ontological and orientational. Kövecses provides an interesting discussion of the grounding of metaphors, including sensory experiences (which Lakoff focuses on almost exclusively), perceived similarities (e.g., life as gambling), ontological realities (e.g., ideas as food), and the source as the root of the target (e.g., love as a bond). He offers as an alternative, a typology devised by Joe Grady, who defines correlation metaphors, resemblance metaphors, and generic-as-specific metaphors. Correlational metaphors are based on correlations in experience (e.g., purposes as destinations). Resemblance metaphors are based on perceived similarities (e.g., King Richard as a lion). Generic-is-specific metaphors are based on structural similarities (e.g., life as gambling). He also discusses the highlighting and hiding of aspects of a target that varies with the selection of metaphor. Similar to Ortony’s notion of constraint, Kövecses discusses partial metaphorical utilization, partial mappings from source to target. Furthering this line of thought, he discusses the distinction between primary and complex metaphors.

An issue of crucial importance to interpreting metaphors is how context determines the metaphors that are used and their interpretation. Kövecses broaches this issue in terms of how “rich knowledge” is used in processing metaphors. He posits the “invariance principle”: “Given the aspect(s) that participate in a metaphorical mapping, map as much knowledge from the source onto the target as is coherent with the image-schematic properties of the target” (103). He notes that metaphors have “scope” determined by the number and kind of target domains a single source domain applies to. This issue ends with a discussion of metaphor systems, metaphors that share a conceptual basis that together represent a more general metaphor.

Kövecses noted Fauconnier and Turner’s (1994) concepts of mental or conceptual spaces, the mental space in which metaphors are created and interpreted, and the space in which all possible metaphor mappings exist. He also discusses the concepts of levels of metaphor (supraindividual, individual and subindividual levels).

Kövecses, Z. (2002) Metaphor and emotion: Language, culture, and body in human feeling. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Lakoff, G. & M. Johnson (2003) Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

This work is the authors’ most comprehensive treatment of their work with conceptual metaphors. They touch on linguistic, psycholinguistic and philosophical aspects research in metaphors. They provide a taxonomy of metaphor, arguing for the inclusion of personification and metonymy. They briefly discuss the systematicity principle, the fact that metaphorical mappings from one semantic domain to another entail multiple “matching” of characteristics of the two domains. The highlighting and suppression of information during the process of metaphorical mapping is discussed as a basis for the author’s radical view of the relationship between metaphors and human thought. I side with Steven Pinker and other linguists in a view that Lakoff and Johnson’s belief that metaphor serves as the source of human thought and also constrains it is a very naïve perspective. Their “theory” is similar to the Whorf hypothesis, which has been soundly discounted by linguists years ago. Much to their discredit, they do not provide evidence from cognitive science that might lend credibility to their “theory.” Lakoff and Johnson conclude their discussion by noting the limitations of “Western” reliance on positivist notions of objectivity, an argument necessarily entailed in their argument that metaphor in mostly implicit ways directs and constrains thought. While the central tenet of this work is naïve, and at best questionable, the taxonomy and discussion of metaphorical structure are clear, useful tools for researchers.

Lakoff, G. (2002) Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

As in his and Johnson’s 2003 publication, Lakoff argues that political beliefs are largely determined by tacit metaphors. In this work, he claims that conservatives and liberals share a metaphorical view of the nation as a family, but different types of family. While the conservatives see the nation as a strong paternalistic family, liberals envisage more nurturing parents. The entailments of these metaphors reflect, according to Lakoff, the different types of government espoused. For conservatives, respect for authority is expected, and self-reliance is valued. Reward and punishment are prominent governmental tools. In contrast, liberals see a more empathetic and nurturing government, and effective communication is essential. He notes, of course, that there is variation in the extent to which these metaphors influence behavior in both political parties.

Interestingly, Lakoff asserts that conservatives tend to be more mindful of the bases of their views and also tend to articulate their ideas more effectively. He sees the conservative view of political life as dangerous and recommends that liberals recognize more clearly the foundations of their beliefs and articulate them more effectively.

Lakoff, G. (1991) Metaphor and war: The metaphor system used to justify war in the gulf. Peace Research, 23, 25-32. [draft available at http://www.arieverhagen.nl/11-sept-01/Lakoff_1991.html]

In this paper, Lakoff argues that George H. W. Bush employed metaphors that masked the harsh realities of war as the U.S. entered the Gulf War in 1991. He identifies metaphors and systems of metaphors—such as war-as-business and the state-as-person—identifies their entailments and explains how use of the metaphors was useful to garnering American public support for the war. Referencing the state-as-person metaphor system and what he calls “the just war as fairy story” metaphor system, Lakoff argues that Saddam Hussein was portrayed as an evil irrational figure. While he may have been evil, his actions were rational in light of the national rivalries in the Middle East and the tension between Arab Nationalism and Islamic Fundamentalism. He further argues that the war-as-business metaphor allowed Bush to minimize the horrors of war, the casualties, maimings, etc. After war, like business, has its expected costs, and peace is worth those costs.

Lazar, Gillian (2003) Meanings and metaphors. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Langacker, R. (2002). Concept, image, and symbol: The cognitive basis of grammar. New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Leary, D.E. (1995) Naming and knowing: Giving forms to things unknown. Social Research, 62. 267-299.

Leary provides a mostly philosophical discussion of the inescapable presence of metaphor in our lives. He argues that the overwhelming lexicon that would otherwise result necessitates the use of metaphor, the naming of objects, thoughts, emotions and actions after similar entities. Short of belief in this argument, he appeals to the predominance of metaphor in everyday language use as evidence that a significant part of our lives and perspectives of life are governed by metaphor. He focuses on scientific discourse, pointing out the fact that few metaphors related to imagination were used in sciences but that conceptual metaphors play an important role in conceptualizing scientific thought, especially new discoveries.

Malt, B., Sloman, S. & S. Gennari (2003) Speaking versus thinking about objects and actions. In D. Gentner & S. Goldin-Meadow (Eds.) Language in mind: Advances in the study of language and thought. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. 81-111.

Munnich, E. & B. Landau (2003) The effects of spatial language on spatial representation: Setting some boundaries. In D. Gentner & S. Goldin-Meadow (Eds.) Language in mind: Advances in the study of language and thought. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. 113-155.

Murphy, J. (2003) “Our Mission and Our Moment”: George W. Bush and September 11th. Rhetoric and Public Affairs, 6 (4), 607-632.

Ortony, A. (2001) Why metaphors are necessary and not just nice, In M. Gannon (Ed.) Cultural metaphors: Readings, research, translations, and commentary. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. 9-24.

Ortony argues that metaphors are more than rhetorical embellishments. He discusses the structural elements of metaphors (i.e., “tenor,” “vehicle,” “ground” and “tension”) and then posits a weak form of the theory that metaphor determines human thought. He explicitly notes that language and logic constitute discrete symbolic systems, intertwined but not causative of each other. In fact, he focuses mostly on semantic/linguistic principles that underlie human comprehension of metaphors. He notes that we often resort to metaphor when language is not sufficient for the articulation of thoughts, dubbing this the “inexpressibility thesis.” What is often thought of as the “matching” of semantic domains of a metaphor is discussed by Ortony as the “compactness thesis.” He elaborates on this notion, pointing out that the matching is constrained by the salience of relevant aspects and tension elimination, the elimination of irrelevant aspects. As Lakoff and Johnson also note, Ortony (termed the “vividness thesis”) “portrays metaphor as a “broadband of particularization,” lending metaphor an emotive force as a result of its greater proximity to perceived experience.

Ricœur, P. (2003) The rule of metaphor: The creation of meaning in language. Translated by Robert Czerny with Kathleen McLaughlin and John Costello. New York: Routledge.

Ricœur begins his discussion of metaphor with definition, noting that it is “something that happens to the noun” (18). He describes the dual reference system of metaphors in terms of movement, a displacement of meaning. He furthers this discussion by noting that a metaphor is a borrowing, that the borrowed meaning is opposed to the “proper” meaning, that the borrowing fills a semantic void, and that the borrowed word displaces the “proper” word if such word exists. It relates these conceptualitzations to Aristotle’s “allotrios” (translated as “alien” or “a name that belongs to something else”), which incorporates the notions of deviation, borrowing, and substitution. Ricœur also notes the differences between metonymy, synecdoche and metaphor.

The author notes the linguistic systematicity of metaphors, pointing out that metaphors entail changes in adjectives, verbs, participles, and other lexical items related to the metaphor’s semantic domains. He discusses the process of personification as a form of metaphor. He also argues that allegory is not a form of metaphor since allegory has two meanings while metaphor has only one.

Like others, Ricœur notes that metaphors emphasize some similarities. He tends toward a stronger form of cognitive determinism by asserting that metaphors organize people’s views and provide insight. He ends his discussion recalling Paul Henle’s and Marcus Hester’s view of metaphor as iconic in nature and Wittegenstein’s “seeing as.”

Rumelhart (1993) Some problems with the notion of literal meanings. In A. Ortony (Ed.) Metaphor and thought, 2nd Edition. New York: Cambridge University Press. 71-82.

Schön, D.A. (1979) Generative metaphor: A perspective on problem-solving in social policy. Metaphor and Thought. New York: Cambridge University Press.

This is one of the seminal treatments of the sociocognitive influence of metaphor. Although he doesn’t use the term “conceptual” metaphor, it is the ability of conceptual metaphor to allow people to revisualize, reconceptualize that he discusses. He posits that the key to resolving problems is framing the problems, which often entails the use of metaphors representing the problems. Reconceptualizing problems through the use of metaphors can provide a better understanding of the problems. Schön points out that this is particularly useful since social problems have become very complex.

For Schön, metaphors usually remain latent to the problem solution process. As such, they can control, he argues, the way in which people view the world and the way in which they behave. He warns that the control they exert can be dangerous. Harnessing the power of metaphor thus lies in making the metaphors explicit and spelling out the entailments.

Schön points out that collective responses to problems are complicated by the fact that people conceptualize the problem in many ways, some conflicting and some based on simplistic understandings. Conflicts among multiple framings of a problem are seldom not resolved through statements of facts because people have already filtered the facts and embedded them in metaphors. Schön suggests that conflicts can be avoided by conceptualizing problems for the public.

Schön’s focus on social policy leads to his definition of generative metaphors as those which reveal aspects of problems and their solutions. He recommends that people become critically aware of metaphors used to determine social policy.

Tenet, G. (2007) At the center of the storm. New York: HarperCollins.

George Tenet presents his account of events that led up to 9/11 and the Iraq War. He provides his defense of the “slam dunk” comment made to President Bush and his account of how the “sixteen words” came to be included in Bush’s State of the Union speech on January 28, 2003. He argues that the search for WMDs was not the reason for war…but that the democratization of the Middle East was the ultimate goal. In agreement with Woodword, notes that key advisors (Wolfowitz, Feith, Perle) were focusing on Iraq well before 9/11. Tenet argues for the integrity of the CIA by stressing the questionable nature of the evidence in with the neoconservatives seemed to place a lot of faith. As Woodword, he portrays a divided administration between hardliners and more pragmatists. Interestingly, he corroborates others’ accusations that the Bush administration repeatedly discounted evidence in order to pursue what appeared to be a predetermined decision to go to war. Tenet does note mistakes made by the CIA, including the failure to predict 9/11, but backpedals by pointing out the warning he made to the Clinton and Bush administrations. He also states that he personally believed that Saddam had WMDs.

Williams, L. & J. Bargh (2008, 24 October). Experiencing physical warmth promotes interpersonal warmth. Science, 322, 606-607. [draft available at http://www.yale.edu/acmelab/articles/Science_coffee_study.pdf]

Similar to Zhong and Leonardelli’s studies with cold and heat, Williams and Bargh’s two studies reported in this article purport to link cognitive perception and physical sensation. In the first study, subjects were asked to hold a warm or cold beverage while describing the personality of another person. In the second study, subjects held a hot or cold therapeutic pad while being asked to choose between purchasing a gift for a friend or for themselves. Results from the first study were that subjects were more likely to describe the other person as “warm” or some other positive way when holding a warm beverage. In the second study, subject holding the hot pad were more likely to purchase a gift for a friend rather then for themselves. The results indicate that conceptualization is linked to physical sensation. The relevance to metaphor is that experiences (usually the basis for source domains of metaphors) are linked to abstract ideas (the basis of target domains of metaphors). This type of research indicates that metaphors are not only linguistically associated with thoughts and emotions, but that they can also determine thoughts and emotions.

Williams, L., Huang, J. & J. Bargh (in press). The scaffolded mind: Higher mental processes are grounded in early experience of the physical world. European Journal of Social Psychology. [draft available at http://www.yale.edu/acmelab/articles/Scaffolded_Mind_EJSP.pdf]

Williams, Huang and Bargh review research which indicates that early life experiences determine an adult’s understanding of social relations and behavior. They consider childhood experience with distance, temperature, cleanliness and self-protection and their relation to more abstract concepts such as adult goals and judgments. The authors conclude that evidence from various experiments indicate that visceral childhood experiences serve as analogies for more abstract concepts and are thus able to influence adult cognitive processes. Again, the relevance to metaphor is that early experiences are linked to abstract ideas. This type of research indicates that metaphors are not only linguistically associated with thoughts and emotions, but that they can also determine thoughts and emotions.

Woodward, B. (2004) Plan of attack. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Woodward provides a detailed documentation—through interviewing and researching—of the Bush administration’s progress from November 2001 to shortly after the initiation of the Iraq War in 2003. He reports that the decision to go to war was made well in advance March 2003, at least in January of the same year, due in part to Cheney and neoconservatives pushing for an invasion shortly after 9/11. Woodward describes the plans for war as a sincere effort to prevent additional attacks on U.S. territory, although elements of the Bush administration made assumptions not justified by evidence. George Bush is portrayed as secretive, insistent on absolute loyalty, and holding an understanding of “the big picture” with little interest in details. He is also portrayed as uncompromising but wavering on the decision to go to war. He’s also portrayed as daring to be audacious, especially when his legacy is in question. He saw his policy of preemption, for example, not only to be a means of preventing attacks, but as a potentially laudable accomplishment of his administration. This work was especially very useful in associating the linguistic elements in Bush’s speech to their sociopolitical context.

Ying, S. (Jan. 2007) The role of culture in metaphor. US-China foreign language, 5 (1). 74-81.

The researcher investigates the role of culture in determining metaphors in Chinese and English. She was not successful in identifying cultural bases for the metaphors she investigated. However, she did identify three types of cross-cultural variation: 1) differences in source domain mappings in conceptual metaphors, 2) differences in value-judgment systems, and 3) differences in rhetorical figure preferences.

Zhong, C.-B. & G. Leonardelli (2008) Cold and lonely: Does social exclusion literally feel cold? Psychological science, 19 (9) 838-842.



Similar to the focus of Williams and Bargh’s work at Yale Zhong and Leonardelli seek to describe the connections between human experience and cognition. Also similar to Williams and Bargh’s research, they exploit metaphors in their investigations. In the research described in this article, Zhong and Leonardelli report evidence that thoughts of social exclusion can promote sympathetic physical sensations. In this set of studies, the researchers found that subjects who recounted a story of social exclusion estimated room temperature to be higher than did the subjects who recalled an instance of social inclusion. Further, subjects who recalled an instance of social exclusion reported a greater desire for warm food and drink than did the other subjects. The researchers conclude that cold/warmth not only help people understand social interaction, but is in fact an integral part thereof. This research, along with Williams and Bargh’s support the theory that metaphor can promote certain understandings and thus certain behaviors.
Directory: lstern
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