Metaphor and Meaning in Early China

Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 10 (1):1-30 (2011)
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Abstract

Western scholarship on early Chinese thought has tended to either dismiss the foundational role of metaphor or to see it as a uniquely Chinese mode of apprehending the world. This article argues that, while human cognition is in fact profoundly dependent on imagistic conceptual structures, such dependence is by no means a unique feature of Chinese thought. The article reviews empirical evidence supporting the claims that human thought is fundamentally imagistic; that sensorimotor schemas are often used to structure our understanding of abstract concepts; that these schemas can be selectively combined to result in novel structures; and that there are inextricable connections between body, emotion, and thought in both everyday and philosophical cognition. It also provides a review of a recent trend where, explicitly or not, scholars from a variety of backgrounds have begun to take metaphor more seriously as a foundational bearer of philosophical meaning in early China

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