Dao

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 1–30 | Cite as

Metaphor and Meaning in Early China

Article

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.

Keywords

Metaphor Emotion Chinese thought Chinese philosophy Embodied cognition 

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Asian StudiesUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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