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Review of  Conceptualizing Metaphors

Reviewer: Andrea Kenesei
Book Title: Conceptualizing Metaphors
Book Author: Ivan Mladenov
Publisher: Routledge (Taylor and Francis)
Linguistic Field(s): Discourse Analysis
Issue Number: 17.1590

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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

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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Bartlett, F.C. (1932) Remembering. Cambridge: CUP.

Beaugrande, de R. (1987) Schemas for literary communication. IN:
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Fauconnier, G. & Turner, M. (2002) The Way We Think: Conceptual
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Kenesei, A. (2005) Poetry Translation through Reception and
Cognition: A model of poetic translation criticism. Ph.D. thesis, Pecs
University, Hungary.

Lakoff, G & Johnson, M. (1980) Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: The
University of Chicago Press.

Petofi, S.J. (2004) A szoveg mint complex jel. [The text as a Complex
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Sperber, D. & Wilson, D. (1986) Relevance: Communication and
Cognition. Oxford: Blackwell.

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."

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