AUTHOR: Mladenov, Ivan TITLE: Conceptualizing Metaphors SUBTITLE: On Charles Peirce's marginalia SERIES: Routledge Studies in Linguistics PUBLISHER: Routledge (Taylor & Francis) YEAR: 2005
Andrea Kenesei, University of Veszprém
The enigmatic thought of Charles S. Peirce (1839-1914), considered by many to be one of the great philosophers of all time, involves inquiry not only into virtually all branches and sources of modern semiotics, physics, cognitive sciences, and mathematics, but also logic, which he understood to be the only useful approach to the riddle of reality. This book represents an attempt to outline an analytical method based on Charles Peirce's least explored branch of philosophy, which is his evolutionary cosmology, and his notion that the universe as made of an 'effete mind.' The chief argument conceives of human discourse as a giant metaphor in regard to outside reality. The metaphors arise in our imagination as lightning- fast schemes of acting, speaking, or thinking. To prove this, each chapter will present a well-known metaphor and explain how it is unfolded and conceptualized according to the new method for revealing meaning. This original work will interest students and scholars in many fields including semiotics, linguistics and philosophy.
Andrea Kenesei, Department of English & American Studies, Pannon University (Veszprem), Hungary
Summary: Mladenov (IM) writes a book on the development on Peirce's (CP) ideas rather than on his oeuvre. He grounds his thoughts about metaphors on P's marginal ideas, which he wishes to outline as part of a novel theory of meaning. He enumerates the hardships of this task as follows: Firstly, a book is either a summary of a philosopher's life-work or it contains afterthoughts generated by this oeuvre, and secondly, IM fears that he might follow the wrong path due to incidental misunderstandings of Peirce's ideas. M's continuation of P's philosophy rests on three main points: 1. Meaning can be represented through metaphors only. 2. There is an urge to rest heavily on interdisciplinary research. 3. Metaphors are to be involved in scientific as well as everyday communication. ''Science is an overconceptualized metaphor'' (p. ix.). IM states that P's work is thought to be unfinished and to have inconsistencies, however, it greatly entails much to (re)consider.
Introduction -- P's philosophy accomplishes much without being completed; he analyses metaphors without an ardent fetishism of them; he connects and separates scientific and poetic conceptualisation; he talks of spiritual consciousness, which is polemics in itself; phaneroscopy (collective pure experience) and synechism (continuity) denote opposite notions as the former, unlike the latter, must refer to stability; the laws of nature are not absolute but they represent natural classes; the indetermination between the idealistic (an enhanced reliance on the mind) and the realistic; feelings are universal and inexplicable; metaphors are based on comparison and concepts are based on resemblance -- how are metaphors conceptualised?; objective idealism is a paradox and its key notion, the effete mind, is not elaborated upon in detail--these are the questions with which IM commences his book.
1. The theoretical framework of the forsaken ideas: what was abandoned and what was expanded? -- This chapter gives an account of the past; P's works and ideas are reflected upon from others' perspectives. The heritage of Kant is presented in Murphey's interpretation, which IM finds too critical as Murphey does not acquit CP of the hiatus in his definition of the incomplete cognition due to the unstable link of sign and object. Murphey's accusation that CP falsely believes in the generalisation of thought is groundless -- as recent psychological and psycholinguistic research has proven it to be the case (Bartlett 1932, van Dijk & Kintsch 1983, Anderson & Pichert 1978, Andor 1985, Beaugrande 1987, Fauconnier & Turner 2002, Sperber & Wilson 1986). P's view of cognition is idealistic in the sense that it takes place in the form of mental concepts, which can never truly reflect the world, and it is objective in the sense that the process starts from reality and returns to it in the form of facts, which are the productions of the dialogically borne ideas. That CP reached philosophy through science explains his analogical approach to sign and reality -- the architectonic principle of formal logic (borrowed from Kant), which is the scientific systematisation of knowledge. P's pragmatism is based on a functional relevance -- objects exert effects on the mind and IM rightfully supports this view. Also, CP claims that conceptualisation is always relative, which supports his belief in a pragmatism not based on truth-falsity. IM says that it is William James who carries on this theory but mention should be made of Austin (1962) too, among others. P's insistence on the relative nature of concepts is as clear (for me) as a diamond. According to P, it is only human perception that verifies the occurrence of physical events; without perception there is no event -- this is what he calls synechism. It is the interpretant whose interpretation produces the sign itself. Even IM asserts that CP does not elaborate on the notion of the ''effete mind'', however, his claims that cognition is based on perception and that interpretation actualises existence are satisfactorily grounded and explained. The innate nature of thought is presented as an axiom and despite of the biological references CP makes this innateness is not answered -- (will be once when brain researchers can produce adequate evidence of the operation of the mind). P's referential relations are partially reiterated in Bühler's language functions -- with the interpretant's role running parallel with the importance of context. The triad of term, proposition and argument returns in Austin's tripartite system of intention, message and effect. P's view of memory and behaviour is later collapsed to the idea of abstract mental concepts, which are generalised inferences. What he calls the spontaneity of the mind is actually the flexibility that enables thinking by relating the relevant parts of relevant concepts.
2. The categories, the ground and the silent effects -- P's iconic, indexical and symbolic representations are described, which are invented to provide the denotational and connotational aspects of meaning. The ground of the sign is not elaborated by P, and, as he projects in his introduction, IM provides his explorations. Firstness, Secondness and Thirdness refer to the matter, the mind and God, respectively. The ground is related to the matter like creativity to potentiality. That the ground appears differently for different people suits conceptualisation, which is necessarily always individual. However, it is hard to imagine the ground as devoid of the mind just like interpretation detaching the self from its consciousness. Knowledge is thought to be iconic and its representation symbolic.
3. Unlimited semiosis and heteroglossia: CP and M.M. Bakhtin -- The comparison of the two must start with the reminder that CP relies on purely scientific readings whereas Bakhtin on literature, especially Dostoevsky. The dialogue for Bakhtin is analogous with CP's interpretation -- there is progressive movement and interdependency in both. The question to be answered is how signs are processed to arrive at impressions and what differentiates impressions and perceptions? The recent notion of concepts as stereotypical units is borne out of P's featuring them universal and general. At this point we feel the lack of references to recent findings concerning mental conceptualisation -- IM remains in the circle of CP and his interpreters but makes no reference to the broader sphere of conceptual research. He ought to do so because CP is one of the founders of the theory of mind. IM speaks of the ''tracks of the effete mind'', which is insufficient for our purposes. It is obvious to give priority to interpretation of signs as interpretation is nothing but a continuous adaptation of and adjustment to context. What is constant is variability and change. The infinity of interpretations is due not only to the partial relation of sign and object but the constant movement of the environment. Interpretation is also the process of translation: ''reading is the achievement of primary experience; translation can be seen as the rearticulation of the experience and interpretation constitutes part of both'' (Kenesei 2005: 66). P's network of sign-reality connections returns in the model of the Hungarian semiotician, J.S. Petőfi (2005). Biologically speaking, brain research supports the early views that thinking and language starts with visual perception in the brain. Both CP and Bakhtin reach a consensus over the power of dialogue that relates signs, let it be the Third=God=I or Other. Moreover, this dialogue is more than binary -- context-dependent interpretation plays the role of the third element. Literature is capable of altering the intricate net of interpretations into a chain-like sequence (frozen semiosis), which forces the reader to have a more precise understanding of the author's intention.
4. The living mind and the effete mind -- What activates the passive mind and makes it work? The old question will be left unanswered for a long time. We can start contemplating about the location of the power that enlivens matter -- is endophoric or exophoric to the body? No wonder that CP failed to elaborate the effete mind as it is the living mind that can be observed through its operation. The effete mind is the warehouse of past experiences in the form of clichés and habits, which are activated by present events. As a result, they do not show themselves until there is an activation, which fact disables us to reveal them. The past cannot be studied without the present. Therefore, the accusation against CP is ungrounded. That CP emphasises continuity proves that there is constant movement between the effete and the living minds, making them inseparable and impossible to investigate as disparate units. At this point, together with the inability of the inferior language to express the depths of mental operations, we realise that P's contribution to the investigations into mind is great, though does not bear much fruit. In defence of him, however, we must add that the basic questions may never be answered by man. I do not agree with IM when he wants to see the effete mind mediating between mental and natural; the effete mind, in my interpretation, is fully mental because, as said above, it contains then-present information. If we want to separate effete and living minds, we have to set up a temporal borderline and in doing so we immediately realise its impossibility as time never stops. Then which is the point that detaches the living from the effete? I would not call the effete mind ''exhausted consciousness'' either as exhausted projects finiteness. Our present moves are determined by past experience, which means that they do not lose their vitality or lay down. The past is embedded in the present just like the present in the future. I would definitely not call the effete mind ''dubious'', ''sceptical'' or ''uncertain''; if this was true, we should say the same of the living mind too. This is the same problem of separating events and feelings -- I claim that feelings are abstracted actions, in other words, they are event-related emotional concepts. At this point I do not separate events that happen to us and our conscious actions. I treat them as distinct concepts as they are based on several events -- different events may induce similar feelings. Today we speak of mental concepts such as frames, scenes or scripts -- I like to introduce a novel concept which I call ''picture'' -- an event-related emotional abstraction (Kenesei 2005). Here I am not speaking of the mental receding back to the matter because I cannot explain the inexplicable that makes matter organic. P's division of sciences is impressive, however, if the basis of everything is mathematics, it seems that we give priority to matter. I would treat mathematics as one of the components of the miraculous organising power and energy.
5. The iceberg and the crystal mind -- The example of the Titanic can be interpreted as the distinction between directly and indirectly gained experiences; obviously, Titanic represents the latter. It is important to separate the two and it is exciting to observe whether they collapse emotionally, that is, do indirect experiences evoke emotions? The answer seems to be no as emotions are the result of our own experiences; indirectly learnt things activate these feelings. The Titanic killed people; it is death that moves us and death, the loss of someone close is a directly gained experience. The sinking of a ship is an indirect thing for most of us but we automatically relate it to physical and human loss, which is direct. For this reason I oppose the notion of sleeping or slipping knowledge because there are always segments that are alive in the present state. We may seem to bury a concrete event but the related emotion is with us and this emotion is kept vivid by other present events. This I call continuity and the intricate net of concepts. Thus, I disagree with CP that a feeling is independent of any other state of mind (following Kant's tripartite division of feeling, willing and knowing) -- I claim that feelings are part of a recursive circle; they are evoked by events and they also incite events. Here I second Freud - what is the motivation of our deeds? First, we want to feel good; second, we want to avoid unpleasant emotions, that is, we do things for the sake of an emotional well-being. And we learn these emotions from our deeds and the events happening to us -- a nice circle, no way vicious. I repeat that the effete mind is never passive, which entails that I would delete the notion of effete once and for all; there is only the living. Yes, the continuous thought is the effete mind but the effete and the living do not meet or clash -- they are one homogenous continuum. It is true that we cannot explain the difference between matter and the effete mind -- no one has been able to do it for over two millenniums - hence the belief in a god.
6. The missing notion of subjectivity in P's philosophy -- The previous problem is reiterated again: CP claims that ''we separate the past and the present. The past is the inner world, the present the outer world''. He speaks of mutuality, complexity and tension between the two -- I accept only the first. The main issue is why CP rejects subjectivity while attempting to define the self, personality and self-consciousness. However, there is mention of his ignorance of the self rather than the refusal of it. In my interpretation, and his use of subject as the correlative of predicate underlines this, this is merely a question of terminology. If there is the self then it is equal with subjectivity. CP's categories of consciousness are completely the same as Kant's -- feeling, reaction and learning. All these interfere between the self and the other individuals. This chapter does not add too much novelty to the hitherto cognised ideas; moreover, it rather highlights the controversies and discrepancies in CP's ideas.
7. The unpredictable past -- Among the questions raised the issue of temporality is the greatest challenge as time is unattainable and quasi indescribable. CP consistently maintains that the present moment is independent of what is before and after, which I regard as completely wrong. As a result, no unexpected will turn up out of the blue and it is not in the futuristic world of computers. IM is biased towards CP -- he is too occupied with CP's apparently false views. If it is ''the tracks [...] of the effete mind from which [...] the living mind extracts [...] knowledge of the past'' is true, then CP has been refuted. But then IM comes to the realisation that continuum denotes the mental and perceptional sameness of the three time dimensions. But this again questions the feasibility of the time-axis model; the model is too simple if we consider the intricacy of relations and too complicated if we imagine continuity as a chain. Neither is the case. Truly enough, we can argue against the existence of present in view of past and future. If we render the present to matter or the other way round, we cannot take an account of mental activation, which must be related to past and future. I would change the term ''objective reality'' used for the past to ''subjective (sur)reality'' as mental conceptualisation is individual. The musical example is impressive, however, it proves the internalised experience, which was once present. A born-deaf person can never have this experience, that is, the lack of Firstness (physical background of hearing) disables the formation of Secondness even at the presence of Thirdness and the moment there is Firstness it entails the other two. This proves that priority cannot be rendered to any one of them. I do not believe in the difference between the creative energy of music and texts, as IM puts it that music does not produce new reality -- I claim that every human creation does produce reality. Also, it is not only the arts that evoke aesthetic sensation but everything that is related to man. The interpretation of text and music is very much the same. Bakhtin's view that man does not get enriched by interpreting the Other can be refuted by Bakhtin himself -- interpretation is the relating of one's own concepts to Other, that is, one's concepts are refreshed, rearranged or even newly constructed. The last is the main aim of literature.
8. The quiet discourse: some aspects of representation in C. Peirce's concept of consciousness -- In this chapter CP, Bakhtin and Baudrillard are paralleled to gain a better understanding of conceptualising metaphors. The example of the video-recorded person acting like an animated sign is odious because watching oneself one becomes Other. The problem of incomplete meaning can be resolved by pragmaticians' cooperative principle -- interpretation lessens the burden of meaning discrepancies as interpreters must be cooperative and eliminate both the shortcomings and divergences of meaning. Thus social consciousness supervises and supplements individual consciousness. This kind of intertwining disables Bakhtin's textual reality -- what happens when encountering a text is blending (Fauconnier & Turner 2002) social, individual and textual consciousnesses. One might wonder over iconic signs -- if they are represented, do not they turn into symbols? Interpretive consciousness elevates icons to a metaphoric-symbolic level and if it so then it is futile to search for the link between mind and iconic effects. Not that we can explain the origin and nature of elevation, far from that, as stated several times. A difference is made between interpretation (extracting meaning) and conveying (passing on) meaning -- are not these the same especially in view of Firstness gaining sense by Secondness. In this view conveying meaning just does not make sense, is not valid as it would mean that Firstness is actually Secondness, incorporating even Thirdness. If it was so, why distinguish the three? It is not the hologram that radiates meaning but its combined Secondness and Thirdness -- the mysterious man.
9. One-man-tango -- A hard task is coming up again -- dream interpretation in terms of consciousness and cognition. CP interprets dreams as real life experiences (forward thoughts), whereas IM as parts of false reality (backward non-thoughts). I do not think that dreams are chaotic; they only pick out the most relevant fragments, which are projected more speedily than in reality. The denial of solipsism questions CP's earlier claims of Secondness-Firstness relations -- if reality is borne in Secondness then it underlines the role of Ego. I would not detach knowledge of Other and Ego as the former does become internalised -- to me it seems that the right reasoning leads CP to a wrong conclusion. Throughout the book IM incorporates CP's interpreters' opinions, which is very impressive. Here, for example, he relies on Murphey's criticism that CP is not consistent, which seems to be the case. The same old problem is reiterated, namely, that the effete mind is the dim storage of past ideas or the storage of dim past ideas. If it was true, there would not be any development of the Self and more importantly, we would not be able to exist. IM supports this calling the representation of the mind conceptual. These concepts make up the recursive net of consciousness that guide us. The metaphorical mind and metaphorical language use gives evidence to the fact that it is conceptual thinking that relates the directly and indirectly expressible. That they become one, secondarily linguistically and primarily cognitively, is proved by Lakoff & Johnson (1980). The example of the poem gives evidence of the Self rather than the Other -- what we read in a poem is our mind: consciousness, sub-consciousness and emotions, all in one. The interpretation of poetry is similar to that of texts in general as Self and Other are in a similar intertwined conceptualisation; what makes it more complicated is the fact that poetry represents a rather complex metaphorical consciousness. It is metaphors we live by; the mind is very much accustomed to constant inferences of metaphors. IM is also aware of this -- the nature of Self is as metaphorical as Nature itself. The investigation of Self and Other can be best carried out by the observation of the child exceeding the premature period when the two are not yet separated in him/her.
10. How is meaning possible? -- IM distinguishes interpretation from conceptualisation claiming that the former is a meaning-seeking free- association process and the latter is a flexible scientific method. I treat conceptualisation as a mind process and wonder why IM finds it scientific. IM reiterates that the effete mind is inactive, which I doubt for reasons outlined earlier. I do not separate the past and the living present, rather, I collapse the two saying that the present is animated past. The doubts about the computer taking over the operations of the mind are appropriate -- the individual concept-based consciousness cannot be taught to the machine as whose concepts are they anyway? Are they the programmer's or programmers' -- one person or some general social consciousness, which is an illusion? Let us not accept Wittgenstein's scepticism -- language is limited but the mind is broader than language. The inability of language to fully represent the mind appears in the inability of the computer to do the same. Meaning is searched by holistic methods in philosophy and cognitive sciences; psychology today is turning to the opposite direction, the atomistic approach, whose main device is biology, to which brain research provides significant contribution. IM equates Gendlin's conceptualisation theory with CP's effete mind. However, Gendlin's approach to meaning through conceptualisation does not seem to reiterate CP. In IM's understanding of conceptualisation all is acceptable except for his regarding past-related concepts abandoned. Also, instead of layers of the mind we had better prefer a network similar to the neural net. IM ends the book by enumerating the issues he feels not to have given detailed elaboration. In sum, IM gives an impressive account of CP's marginalia together with numerous references to CP's interpreters. The questions IM touches upon are challenging for philosophers, psychologists, linguists and the man in the street.
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ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Andrea Kenesei is a lecturer in linguistics. Her interests include pragmatics, discourse and text analysis, linguistic analysis of literature, translation and reader-response theories. She has completed her Ph.D. dissertation titled "Poetry Translation through Reception and Cognition: The Proof of Translation is in the Reading. A Model of Poetic Translation Criticism."