The neural, evolutionary, developmental, and bodily basis of metaphor
New Ideas in Psychology. 23 (2), August 2005, 74–95
Jay A. Seitz
We propose that there are four fundamental kinds of metaphor … We contend that these basic metaphors are largely nonconceptual and entail
(c) movement–movement, and
(d) perceptual-affective mappings that, at least, in the initial stages of processing may operate largely outside of conscious awareness.
Gentner and colleagues (Gentner et al., 2001; Gentner & Markman, 1997) argue that similarity, including metaphoric similarity as well as analogy …
Metaphors, however, map both systems of relations (e.g., atomic structure is like a solar system) and attributes of objects (e.g., ‘‘His hand was like a vise’’) depending on the type of the metaphor. This differentiation of similarity, however, conflates analogy with metaphor and BmT theory suggests that metaphor is a separate species, …
the metaphorical statement, ‘‘Cigarettes are time bombs,’’ is a class-inclusion assertion
although the authors do not confront this thorny aspect of metaphoric language—that it often serves some conscious social purpose. Indeed, Gentner and colleagues indicate that analogy and metaphor involve more abstract conceptual relations and presumably entail some conscious mechanisms.
Notwithstanding individual differences, we might easily perceive a plate of spaghetti as a collection of worms or a stop sign as a popsicle (perceptual–perceptual metaphors), a spinning top as a ballerina (movement–movement metaphor), a front of a car as smiling (perceptual-affective metaphor) or music as sad (cross-modal metaphor; see Seitz, 2001a, 2005). That is, they involve extensive automaticity including implicit perception, memory, and thought; they are fast and independent (Marcus, 2004); they are engaged by specific environmental stimuli; and they are largely innate (Kihlstrom, 1987, 2002; see below). Cytowic (2002a, b) makes a related case for synesthesia arguing that that it is automatic, involuntary, and inborn.
synesthetic metaphor or the ability to link disparate sensory modalities
Autistic children who lack this capacity are unable to attribute affective properties to social or nonsocial objects or use or apprehend metaphoric language (Baron-Cohen, Leslie, & Frith, 1985; Leslie & Frith, 1988; Seitz, 1996)—notwithstanding Kanner’s (1946) earlier but incorrect use of the term ‘‘metaphoric language’’ in autistic children (see Seitz, 1996)—as are brain damaged adults with alexithymia (Brothers, 1989) and adults with forms of prosopagnosia in which there is damage to anterior regions of area V4 in the inferior temporal lobe that underlie both affective recognition and expression in the face (Zeki, 1999).
creative thought occurs in four stages: Incubation, insight, confirmation, and verification (Wallas, 1926).
Intuition has been defined as reaching conclusions based on nonconscious processes of reasoning (Gregory, 1998).
a 3-year old that applies the polar adjectives ‘‘light/dark’’ to an object (e.g., sandpaper) felt while blindfolded (Gardner, 1974) or a preschooler who indicates that red is a warm or hot color (Seitz, 1997). Indeed, the distinguished art historian, Ernest Gombrich (1963), has long observed that such ‘‘natural metaphors’’—bright sounds or cool colors—arise spontaneously in perception because they are part of our innate constitution.
3.4. Physiognomic metaphor
During the very early preschool years rudimentary physiognomic experiences—the attribution of affective properties to visually perceived objects as well as other sensory experiences (e.g., identifying the front grille of an automobile as a ‘‘smiling face’’ or a piece of music as ‘‘cheerful’’)—gain prominence (Seitz, 1992, 1997, 1998a, b; Seitz & Beilin, 1987).