How do metaphors shape thought in the wild?



This paper examines the theoretical and empirical claims, put forward by Lakoff and Johnson (1980) and extended by others, that metaphor shape thought. We discuss how Lakoff and Johnson’s original claims about metaphors and thought, particular characteristics of the experiments, and a lack of a general model to make sense of the findings all contribute to misunderstandings of how metaphors affect thought. Moreover, we review important experiment results exploring different interpretations for them and present a dynamic model to illustrate how metaphors affect reasoning. By taking the instance that (i) reasoning is susceptible to multivariate (and nonlinear) constraints and metaphors is one of them, (ii) metaphors are a variate group, (iii) meaning is always contextual, as opposed to being instantiated at some abstract conceptual mappings, we want to emphasize the need to be careful about any generalization regarding metaphors from theory and experiments to the society at large.


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