Metaphor as a mode of interpretation: An essay on interactional and contextual sense-making processes, metaphorology, and verbal arts
1998 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
This essay is an attempt to assess the oddity and importance of metaphor, both viewed as inseparable, internal aspects of the metaphorical sense-making activity. To outline the "challenge" of metaphor, arguments are made against the traditional approaches to metaphor, namely the idea that metaphor is a thing, an entity out there in the discourse or text, whose meaning is embedded within its discrete units and parts. This issue concerns the very ontology of metaphor. It is argued that the "nature" and "structure" of metaphor are inseparable from the very process of interpretation.
The first chapter deals with the Western history of theorizing about metaphor, a practice more than two thousand years old. From this non-uniform tradition of thinking I have chosen some alternative views: the traditional outline of metaphor as a deviant linguistic entity, which places the metaphorical "content" within some external structure that can add elegance and vivacity to discourse; and three alternative "romantic" view-points: (1) the description of the metaphorical activity as essential to the art-making activity, sometimes outlined as organically tied to early phases of the human development; (2) the effort to point out that transference underlies every conceptualization of perception, making thinking and language essentially metaphorical ("metaphorical universalism"); (3) the view that claims that abstraction presuppose a transference from ordinary language use. These views on metaphor and itssupposed, more or less implicitally stated, relation to interpretation are used to point out the importance of creating an alternative perspective to all these perennial views.
The second chapter focuses on the huge amount of effort that has been made in this century to provide general semantic or pragmatic theories of metaphor. One of the main motivations behind this chapter is to show some important difficulties surrounding linguistic approaches to metaphor, especially concerning its "location" of meaning within the structure itself or as conversationally implicated, to show the need to focus on the very transfigurational process that constitutes metaphor.
The third chapter tries to illuminate the process constituting metaphor, by relocating metaphor from the structure of Iinguistic strings within some, more or less extended context, to the particular interpretation of that locus. To illuminate this context-related sense-making activity I demonstrate its workings by interpreting some literary texts. In this connection I try to show how the different contexts are used as operational frames in interpreting literary works, undermining every effort to state monistic, universally applicable principles for the particular interpretive determination of meaning. Metaphor becomes one way of determining meaning within an interpretive activity.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 1998. , xxxi, , 293 p.
Aesthetics, context, contextualization, active determination, interpretation, linguistic item, metaphor, sense-making, understanding
Other Humanities not elsewhere specified
Research subject Aesthetics
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-765ISBN: 99-2702038-4OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-765DiVA: diva2:169799
1998-10-17, lecture hall IV, Main building, Uppsala University, Uppsala, 14:15