Chapter 16. Metaphors, snowflakes, and termite nests

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Metaphoric language is very much the product of human action, and many scholars now claim that metaphor in language arises from metaphors in thought. But the reasons for why we think metaphorically and speak (gesture) in these ways may be rooted in principles of self-organization that describe the existence, and forms, of many other animate and inanimate things, ranging from snowflakes to termite nests. This chapter describes the benefits of looking at metaphor from a self-organizational point of view, known as dynamical systems theory, and suggests how this perspective can solve several long-standing debates in metaphor scholarship on the variability of metaphors in context and the mental processes by which they are understood.


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