In this essay, I challenge the use of Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT) in the premodern Chinese setting. The dominant, implicit assumption in the literature is that conclusions reached by CMT on the ways in which cognition operates can be applied in toto and without qualification onto the makers of classical Chinese texts. I want to challenge this assumption and argue that textual evidence from premodern Chinese points to a different cognitive process. Differences in the use and conceptualization of image-based thinking as well as differences in the understanding of the relationship between words, images, and the world reveal a different cognitive process. However, I do not wish to argue for a total abandonment of the insights of CMT. Rather, I call for the need to properly qualify its findings in light of premodern Chinese use and conceptions of image-based language.
Allan, Sarah. 1997. The Way of Water and Sprouts of Virtue. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Aristotle. 1932. Aristotle in 23 Volumes. Trans. by W. H. Fyfe. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Perseus Digital Library. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3atext%3a1999.01.0056 (last accessed on May 14, 2019).
Austin, John L. 1961. Philosophical Papers. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Bao, Yongling. 2015. “Water, Plant, Light, and Mirror: On the Root Metaphors of the Heart-Mind in Wang Yangming’s Thought.” Frontiers of Philosophy in China 10.1: 95–112.
Bybee, Joan. 2010. Language, Usage and Cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Caballero, R., and J. Díaz-Vera. 2013. “Metaphor and Culture: A Relationship at a Crossroads?” Intercultural Pragmatics 10.2: 205–207.
Cai, Zongyang 蔡宗陽. 1993. A New Study on C hen Kui’s “Principles of Literature” 陳騤《文則》新論. Taipei 台北: Wenshizhe chubanshe 文史哲出版社.
Chang, Miao-Hsia. 2015. “Two Counter-expectation Markers in Chinese.” In Metaphor and Metonymy Across Time and Cultures: Perspectives on the Sociohistorical Linguistics of Figurative Language, edited by Javier Diaz-Vera. Berlin: De Gruyter.
Chen, Guo-Ming, and Richard Holt. 2002. “Persuasion Through the Water Metaphor in Dao De Jing.” Intercultural Communication Studies 11.1: 153–171.
Chong, Kim-Chong. 2006. “Zhuangzi and the Nature of Metaphor.” Philosophy East and West 56.3: 370–391.
Cline, Erin M. 2008. “Mirrors, Minds, and Metaphors.” Philosophy East and West 58.3: 337–357.
Cserep, Attila. 2014. “Conceptual Metaphor Theory: In Defense of the Fence?” Argumentum 10: 261–288.
Ekstrom, Martin S. 2014. “Does the Metaphor Translate?” In Translating China for Western Readers: Reflective, Critical, and Practical Essays, edited by Gu Ming Dong and Rainer Shulte. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Faucconnier, Gilles. 2003. Mappings in Thought and Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Faucconnier, Gilles, and Mark Turner. 2003. The Way We Think: Conceptual Blending and the Mind’s Hidden Complexities. New York: Basic Books.
Gibbs, Raymond. 2009. “Why Do Some People Dislike Conceptual Metaphor Theory?” Cognitive Semiotics 5.1: 14–36.
______. 2011. “Evaluating Conceptual Metaphor Theory.” Discourse Processes 48.8: 529–562.
______. 2015. “Counting Metaphors: What Does This Reveal about Language and Thought?” Cognitive Semantics 1.2: 155–177.
Giblett, Rod. 2009. “The Tao of Water.” Landscapes: The Journal of the International Centre for Landscape and Language 3.2: 15–26.
Glucksberg, Sam. 2008. “How Metaphors Create Categories—Quickly.” In Cambridge Handbook of Metaphor and Thought, edited by Raymond W. Gibbs. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Glucksberg, Sam, and Boaz Keysar. 1998. “How Metaphors Work.” In Metaphor and Thought, edited by Andrew Ortony. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gu, Ming Dong. 1997. “Fu-Bi-Xing: A Metatheory of Poetry-Making.” Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews (CLEAR) 19: 1–22.
Hansen, Chad. 1985. “Chinese Language, Chinese Philosophy, and ‘Truth.’” The Journal of Asian Studies 44.3: 491–519.
Harrison, Victoria S. 2015. “Seeing the Dao: Conceptual Metaphors and the Philosophy of Religion.” Religious Studies 51: 307–322.
He, Liye 何麗野. 2003. “Fire and Water: The Fundamental Metaphors of Chinese and Western Philosophy 水與火: 中西哲學的核心隱喻和文化的基本精神.” Shehui kexue 社會科學 6: 86–90.
Heidegger, Martin. 1957. The Principle of Reason [Der Satz vom Grund]. Frankfurt: Klostermann.
Hurst, Cecily. 2000. “The Origin of Language in Chinese Thought.” Anthropoetics 6.2: 1–15.
Jones, Nicholaos. 2016. “Correlative Reasoning about Water in Mengzi 6A2.” Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 15.2: 193–207.
Kallay, Geza. 2014. “Some Philosophical Problems about Metaphor.” Argumentum 10: 339–345.
Kao, Karl S. Y. 2000. “Comparative Literature and the Ideology of Metaphor, East and West.” Comparative Literature and Language 2.4: 1–9.
Kovecses, Zoltan. 2005. Metaphor in Culture: Universality and Variation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
______. 2013. “Recent Developments in Metaphor Theory: Are the New Views Rival Ones?” In Metaphor and Metonymy Revisited beyond the Contemporary Theory of Metaphor: Recent Developments and Applications, edited by Fransisco Gonzalvez-Garcia, Maria Sandra Pena Cervel, and Lorena Perez Hernández. Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Lakoff, George. 1998. “The Contemporary Theory of Metaphor.” In Metaphor and Thought, edited by Andrew Ortony. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lakoff, George, and Mark Johnson. 1980. Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: Chicago University Press.
Link, Perry. 2013. An Anatomy of Chinese: Rhythm, Metaphor, Politics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Liu, James J. Y. 1975. Chinese Theories of Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Lu, Yanying. 2012. “Water Metaphors in Dao De Jing: A Conceptual Analysis.” Open Journal of Modern Linguistics 2.4: 151–158.
Makeham, John. 2012. “Introduction.” In Learning to Emulate the Wise: The Genesis of Chinese Philosophy as an Academic Discipline in Twentieth-century China, edited by John Makeham. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press.
de Mendoza Ibáñez, Francisco José Ruiz, and Lorena Pérez Hernández. 2011. “The Contemporary Theory of Metaphor: Myths, Developmentss and Challenges.” Metaphor and Symbol 26.3: 161–185.
Min, Lin. 2001. Certainty as a Social Metaphor. London: Greenwood Press.
Owen, Stephen. 1992. Reading in Chinese Literary Thought. Cambridge, MA: Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University.
Rakova, Marina. 2002. “The Philosophy of Embodied Realism: A High Price to Pay?” Cognitive Linguistics 13.3: 215–244.
Reding, Jean-Paul. 2004. Comparative Essays in Early Greek and Chinese Rational Thinking. Adlershot: Ashgate.
Slingerland, Edward. 2003. Effortless Action: Wu-wei as Conceptual Metaphor and Spiritual Ideal in Early China. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
______. 2004a. “Conceptions of the Self in the Zhuangzi: Conceptual Metaphor Analysis and Comparative Thought.” Philosophy East and West 54.3: 322–342.
______. 2004b. “Conceptual Metaphor Theory as Methodology for Comparative Religion.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 72.1: 1–31.
______. 2005. “Conceptual Blending, Somatic Marking, and Normativity: A Case Example from Ancient Chinese.” Cognitive Linguistics 16.3: 557–584.
______. 2011. “Metaphor and Meaning in Early China.” Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 10.1: 1–30.
______. 2017. “Metaphor, Blending, and Cultural Variation: A Reply to Camus.” Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 16: 431–435.
Steen, Gerard. 2011. “The Contemporary Theory of Metaphor—Now New and Improved!” Review of Cognitive Linguistics 9.1: 26–64.
Wu, Yameng 吳雅萌. 2011. “Cognitive Difference in the Metaphorical Use of ‘Water’ between English and Chinese 英漢“水”隱喻的認識分析.” Mudanjiang daxue xuebao 牡丹江大學學報 11: 60–62.
Wu, Zhongsheng 吳中勝. 2016. “Water and Literature in The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons 從 ‘上善若水’ 到《文心雕龍》的 ‘以水喻文’.” Zhongzhou xuekan 中州學刊 6: 132–137.
Yang, Yanning. 2011. “Grammatical Metaphor in Chinese: A Corpus Based Study.” Functions of Language 18.1: 1–28.
Yip, Wai-Lim. 1993. Diffusion of Distances: Dialogues between Chinese and Western Poetics. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Yu, Ning. 1998. The Contemporary Theory of Metaphor: A Perspective from Chinese. Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Yu, Pauline. 1987. The Reading of Imagery in the Chinese Poetic Tradition. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Yu, Pauline, and Theodore Huters. 1994. “The Imaginative Universe of Chinese Literature.” In Masterworks of Asian Literature in Comparative Perspective: A Guide for Teaching, edited by Barbara Stoler Miller. Arnok: M. E. Sharp.
Zhang, Longxi. 1996. “What Is Wen and Why Is It Made So Terribly Strange?” College Literature 23.1: 15–35.
Zhang, Shaokang 張少康. 1993. New Investigations on The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons 文心雕龍新探. Taipei 台北: Wenshizhe chubanshe 文史哲出版社.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Gandolfo, S. Metaphors of Metaphors: Reflections on the Use of Conceptual Metaphor Theory in Premodern Chinese Texts. Dao 18, 323–345 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11712-019-09669-0