Abduction and metaphor: An inquiry into common cognitive mechanism

Research Article


Abduction and metaphor are two significant concepts in cognitive science. It is found that the both mental processes are on the basis of certain similarity. The similarity inspires us to seek the answers to the following two questions: (1) Whether there is a common cognitive mechanism behind abduction and metaphor? And (2) if there is, whether this common mechanism could be interpreted within the unified frame of modern intelligence theory? Centering on these two issues, the paper attempts to characterize and interpret the generation and evolution of scientific metaphors from the perspective of the cognitive mechanism of abductive inference. Then it interprets the common cognitive mechanism behind abduction and metaphor within Hawkins’ frame of intelligence theory. The commonality between abduction and metaphor indicates the potential to further explore human intelligence.


abduction metaphor common cognitive mechanism memory-prediction 


  1. Black, M. (1993). “More about Metaphor,” in Metaphor and Thought, ed. by A. Ortony. Cambridge: Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  2. Gibbs, R. W. (2008). “Metaphor and Thought: The State of the Art,” in The Cambridge Handbook of Metaphor and Thought, ed. by R. W. Gibbs. Cambridge: Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  3. Hawkins J., and Blakeslee S. (2004). On Intelligence. New York: Times BooksGoogle Scholar
  4. Josephson, J. R., and Josephson, S. G. (1996). Abductive Inference: Computation, Philosophy, Technology. Cambridge: Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  5. Lakoff, G., and Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors We Live by. Chicago: University of Chicago PressGoogle Scholar
  6. Magnani, L. (2001). Abduction, Reason, and Science. New York: Kluwer Academic PublishersCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Magnani, L. (2009). Abductive Cogniton: The Epistemological and Eco-Cognitive Dimensions of Hypothetical Reasoning. Berlin: Springer PressGoogle Scholar
  8. Osho (2007). Tao: The Three Treasures (Chinese Edition), Vol. 1. Xi’an: Shaanxi Shifan Daxue ChubansheGoogle Scholar
  9. Peirce, C. S. (1931–1958). Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, Vols. I–VI, eds. by Charles Hartshorne and Paul Weiss; Vols. VII–VIII, ed. by Arthur W. Burks. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University PressGoogle Scholar
  10. Sorensen, B. (2008). “Comments Regarding Charles Sanders Peirce’s Notion of Consciousness, Abduction, and the Hypo-Icon Metaphor.” Semiotica, 172: 11–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Steinhart, E. C. (2001). The Logic of Metaphor: Analogous Parts of possible Worlds. Netherlands: Kluwer Academic PublishersGoogle Scholar
  12. Thagard, P. (2007). “Abductive Inference: From Philosophical Analysis to Neural Mechanisms,” in Inductive Reasoning: Experimental, Developmental, and Computational Approaches, eds. by Feendy, A. & Heit E. Cambridge: Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for the Study of Language and CognitionZhejiang UniversityHangzhouChina

Personalised recommendations