The Brain and the Book - Session 13

  • April 10. What Is Metaphor? BOOK SUMMARIES DUE ON APR. 8.
    1. Basic theory.
      1. Lakoff and Johnson, Metaphors We Live By, chs. 1-17, 20, 25-30 (pp. 1-105, 126-38, 185-237).
    2. Role of body in primary schemas
      1. Damasio, Descartes' Error, "The Body-Minded Brain," pp. 223-244. Handout
      2. Lakoff and Johnson, Philosophy in the Flesh, "Time," "The Mind," "The Self," chs. 12, 13, pp. 235-289. Handout

    1. Basic theory
      1. Lakoff and Johnson, Metaphors We Live By. Explain basic principle of source and target.
        1. Metaphors are a system, not just a single thing. What does that mean? Cp. ordinary view of metaphors in poetry.
        2. 9.4 Use the most specific metaphorical concept to specify the system, e.g., TIME IS MONEY. Explain.
        3. Metaphors are based on physical, bodily experience. 154. What does it mean to say that a metaphor cannot be understood apart from its experiential basis? Could a computer understand a metaphor? A Martian? Person from a different culture? What does this imply about poetry?
        4. Spatialization metaphors. Quote from Jules Henry, Pathways to Madness. New York: Random House, 1965, p. 60.

          I have suggested here that in the process of making the baby her own, a mother teaches it certain conceptions of the universe--of time, space, objects, and so on. For such empathic absorption of the universe by the baby it is probably better to use "imbue" rather than "teach," for the idea of contact with the universe through another person is not quite captured by the terms "learn" and "teach." When one is imbued in this way--as if sun, water and time were filtered to one through the body of another person--it becomes difficult to change one's perceptions, for change would be a kind of death-a detachment from the person through whom the universe was absorbed. Thus consciousness itself is learned and acquired through another person. From the time we are born we are taught how to be conscious. Consciousness is a sociocultural phenomenon, and the consciousness of a Pilaga Indian baby is therefore very different from that of an American one.

          NNH explain Henry. What are the implications of this? Whorf-Sapir? But for metaphor. 160.1 Do people in power impose their metaphors? Cp. "war against terrorism," "axis of evil."
        5. Other familiar metaphors--
          1. experience of physical objects: hot-cold, light-heavy, rough-smooth, etc.
          2. container metaphor. V. important for language.
          3. personification. The Heider-Simmel experiment. Is this tendency to personify innate?
          4. metonymy. Use of one entity to refer to a related other. It refers rather than leading to (metaphor =) understanding
          5. "Poetic" language"? What is the brain function / evolutionary value of poetic language?
        6. Annotations.
          53.2 What are implications for poetry?
          69.3 "Directly emergent," "emergent metaphorically." What does that mean? Later: primary and secondary metaphors?
          70.5 metaphors of causation. Cp. infants' experience of animate/inanimate and causality. 75-76 Sum of this distinction.
          Long riff on coherency and overlap. This leads to Turner's blended spaces.
          107.1-7. Abstraction vs. homonymy distinction.
          NNH: leads to idea that poetry/lit are ways of understanding.
          117. Natural kinds of experience.
          122.9 Prototype theory (Rosch developed 1977). Metaphor rests on use of categories and only prototype categories.
        7. Ch. 20. Metaphor gives meaning to form. Explain. How does this bear on the sound matches sense theory? Frost and one way of saying the line.
        8. MENTION ONLY. 156-157. The energy argument. is this convincing? Are the only issues which metaphors you use? His later book, Moral Politics. Repubs/Dems. Blair and recasting Labor Party.
        9. Ch. 25. What is the status of of the neuroscientific stuff we've been using? Objective truth? Metaphorical? A myth? Experiential? Leads to philosophical position of operationalism.
          191.7 Sex'l metaphor for corruption of reason by metaphor. :-)
        10. A key question for this topic: CAN WE GIVE A NEUROLOGICAL ACCOUNT OF METAPHOR? Mapping pfc functions back? Or using categories built in to iferior temporal gyrus?
        11. 205.2 Why are Sapir-Whorf and Chomsky in the same sentence? What does this paragraph mean? E-language vs. I-language.

    2. Role of body in primary schemas. Damasio, "The Body-Minded Brain," pp. 223-244.
      1. What is the role of the body in all this? Accords with Damasio's idea?
      2. 226-27. Is Damasio's self a sense of self or an identity in Holland-Lichtenstein sense?
      3. This section is the prototype for his later book. 3 kinds of self. What is his "metaself"? 243.2-4 It's narrative. How does thie fit in with Lakoff's ideas about metaphor? Why did I assign them together? [Body interacting with objects ---> metaphorical understandings.]
      4. In effect, Damasio ties verbal behavior to the body-in-the-brain. Can animals have metaphor? Examples? Does metaphor require symbolic capacity (as in Deacon, Merlin Donald)?

    3. Lakoff and Johnson, Philosophy in the Flesh, "Time," "The Mind," "The Self," Chs. 10, 12, 13, pp. 137-169, 235-289. 151.4: Note that we are very much on the right side of the Alp here.
      1. Time. Two basic metaphors. If time is the target, the source is repeated events in time--tick-tock. Or the source is spatial orientation, subdivided into static (ahead, behind) or flow (past, passing, to come) either past the subject or the subject's moving through time.
        Time as substance: distinction between multiplicity and mass, count noun vs. mass noun.
        Figure ground reversals: the face/vase illusion. Leads to Pettigrew paper on brain reversals. Binocular rivalry cycling. Notion of oscillators in midbrain.

        1. 138.7. Iterations of event equals a metonymy. Why that word?
        2. 139.1. Our experience of time is relative to our experience of events.
        3. 140.1. Brain centers for detection of motion--where?
        4. 144. Boroditsky paper, 588.1. Recent spatial experience primes for certain time metaphors.
        5. 154.2-5. Isn't the indented argument saying that, if you have a word for something, it exists?
        6. 157.2, 158.4. V ambitious line of argument. Time does not exist independently of our metaphors for it. is this a great debunking? Or, are metaphors, "real"? Leads to the medieval nominalism-realism controversy. Platonic: forms are real. Aristotelian: purposes are real, i.e., define things. Platonic forms inhere in objects. Realists: universals are real things. Nominalists: universals are names (?). Is he saying time does not exist? Says only events are real. What does he mean by "real"? Something our minds can get round? 154.2
        7. 160. Relativity--only metaphorical, but the metaphor is apt/ Whuzzat? Correspondence theory of truth? No way. 160.5: Apt = entails metaphorical predictions that can be verified or falsified. Metaphors preserve inferences; inferences can have nonmetaphorical consquences; one can test for aptness.
        8. Time as a resource. Important in a capitalist society. All societies post hunter-gatherer?
          1. 164.4 Mistake to think metaphors are "untrue."
          2. 164.7 Pay people by the hour. Parable of the workers in the vineyard. Matthew--
            020:001 For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.
            020:002 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
            020:003 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
            020:004 And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.
            020:005 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.
            020:006 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?
            020:007 They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.
            020:008 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.
            020:009 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.
            020:010 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.
            020:011 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,
            020:012 Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.
            020:013 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?
            020:014 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.
            020:015 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?
            020:016 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.
            What's the point of this? Idea would be that units of time apply to day labor but not to the kingodm of heaven, i.e., realm of value, love, faith, heaven, being saved, etc. King Lear's problem. Which of you shall we say doth love us most? Axiology: a theory of values.

          3. 165.4 Culture reifies metaphor in institutions, makes it "true." Aboriton and conscience clause."
          4. 166.8 Cannot think abt time wo metaphors.
          5. 167.1-2, 7. Key terms: "literal." Philos'l issue of "psychologism." 169.3. 168.5: Can we talk about time literally? No--not a surprising conclusion.

      2. The Mind
        1. Thinking is Moving. "My mind is racing."
        2. Thinking is Perceiving. "I see." Indo-European: weid-: Gr "eidos."--> idea Lat: video. 18C: "wit."
        3. Thinking is Object Manipulaiton. "Putting yr ideas across."
          1. ®MDNM¯Hence, acquiring ideas Is eating. Oral metaphors.
        4. Thought as Language.
        5. Thought as Mathematical Calculation. "That adds up." "That doesn't compute."
        6. 248.5: no theory of mind is both comprehensive, consistent and metaphorically intuitive. Whuzzat? "made up of entailments of the above metahors." Whuzzat?
        7. 250 ff. Long argument with philosophers. The one philosophical review of this I've seen accuses L&J of over-simplifyng philosophers in later section.
        8. The Chinese Room argument. Lakoff takes Searle's puzzle apart like a poem (next week). 264.5: Lakoff's answer to Searle. NNH's thought: What does Searle's "rule book" correspond to besides a computer program? Chomsky's rules-in-the-head for I-language. Chomsky's "creativity within rules"--could a rule book embody "creativity"?

      3. The Self
        1. 268.2 Key distinction is between "subject" and "self".
        2. 269.2 5 special cases of Subject-Self.
          1. manipulating objects
          2. being located in space
          3. entering into social relations
          4. empathic projection
          5. Folk Theory of Essence - bears on Licht-Holland
        3. 269.9 Key definitions
          1. Subject: locus of reason, will, and judgment that exists only in the present. Metaphorically conceived as a person. ? Location of a person's Essence ?
          2. Self: Self = not-subject. Metaphorically can be a person, an object, a location.
        4. 277.3 "Objective Standpoint Metaphor." Being outside oneself? Licht-Holland.
        5. 278.2 Subject values Self. Notions of narcissism, superego collapsed here. This whole "social self" metaphor is close to psas: the idea of one's ego (does this equal Lakoff's "subject"?--I think it does); the ego as incorporated identifications, first parents, then others; Eric Berne and the inner child, parent, adult.
        6. The Essential Self section. All this is v close to Lichtenstein-Holland. For exam, you need to think out the relation between the two.

      4. God. Lakoff's stuff about time is close to what he later writes (in Where Does Mathematics Come From?) about infinity and (inferentially) God. Basic Metaphor for Infinity (BMI): potential infinity (counting up) and actual infinity (place where parallel lines meet). Actual Infinity is conceptualized as the result or end of Potential Infinity. E.g., create an idea of eternity by saying "there is such a thing as a state that encompasses all the iterations of the years." Same move will produce a monotheistic deity out of earthly notions of power-->omnipotence; knowledge--->omniscience; life--->eternality, etc. Is this Anselm's ontological argument??.

    April 17. Can We Use These Theories to Study a Single Poem? We will consider an analysis of the metaphors in a Williams poem, and we will draw what conclusions we can from the semester's work.
    1. Gibbs and Nascimento, "How We Talk When We Talk About Love," Handout
    2. Lakoff and Turner, More than Cool Reason, "Single Poem," "Great Chain of Being," chs. 3-4, pp. 140-213. Handout
    3. General discussion and remaining questions. Where do we go from here? Turner and blended spaces? Survival - procreation value for literature?