This book is a cognitive semantic study of the Chinese conceptualization of
the heart, traditionally seen as the central faculty of cognition. The
Chinese word "xin," which primarily denotes the heart organ, covers the
meanings of both "heart" and "mind" as understood in English, which upholds
a heart-head dichotomy. In contrast to the Western dualist view, Chinese
takes on a more holistic view that sees the heart as the center of both
emotions and thought. The contrast characterizes two cultural traditions
that have developed different conceptualizations of person, self, and agent
The concept of "heart" lies at the core of Chinese thought and medicine,
and its importance to Chinese culture is extensively manifested in the
Chinese language. Diachronically, this book traces the roots of its
conception in ancient Chinese philosophy and traditional Chinese medicine.
Along the synchronic dimension, it not only makes a systematic analysis of
conventionalized expressions that reflect the underlying cultural models
and conceptualizations, as well as underlying conceptual metaphors and
metonymies, but also attempts a textual analysis of an essay and a number
of poems for their metaphoric and metonymic images and imports contributing
to the cultural models and conceptualizations. It also takes up a
comparative perspective that sheds light on similarities and differences
between Western and Chinese cultures in the understanding of the heart,
brain, body, mind, self, and person.
The book contributes to the understanding of the embodied nature of human
cognition situated in its cultural context, and the relationship between
language, culture, and cognition.