Metaphor and imagination structure human understanding

“…human bodily movement, manipulation of objects, and perceptual interactions involve recurring patterns without which our experience would be chaotic and incomprehensible. I call these patterns “image schemata,” because they function primarily as abstract images. They are gestalt structures, consisting of parts standing in relations and organized into unified wholes, by means of which our experience manifests discernible order. When we seek to comprehend this order and to reason about it, such bodily based schemata play a central role. For although a given image schema may emerge first as a structure of bodily interactions, it can be figuratively developed and extended as a structure around which meaning is organized at more abstract levels of cognition. This figurative extension and elaboration typically takes the form of metaphorical projection from the realm of physical bodily interactions onto so-called rational processes, such as reflection and the drawing of inferences from premises. …what are often thought of as abstract meanings and inferential patterns actually do depend on schemata derived from our bodily experience and problem solving.” (pp.xix-xx)

“metaphor” […is] a pervasive, indispensable structure of human understanding by means of which we figuratively comprehend our world. …”imagination” is a basic image-schematic capacity for ordering our experience; it is not merely a wild, non-rule-governed faculty for fantasy and creativity.” (p.xx)

Ref: (italics in original; emphases in blue bold mine) Mark Johnson (c1987) The Body in the Mind: The bodily basis of meaning, imagination, and reason. University of Chicago Press: Chicago and London.


About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
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