Volume 7, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2213-8722
  • E-ISSN: 2213-8730
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



This paper proposes to define metaphor as a visual-material structure, the sphere of which is rather than cognitive or conceptual. It argues that the essence of metaphor, as either an aesthetic or a communicative unit or both, resides in the qualitative dimension and appearance, or even materiality, of the metaphorical medium and its form. The paper thus offers a new theory of metaphor, focusing on the of metaphor, which composes and transfigures or reconstructs its target anew: a composition that is prior to understanding or conceptualizing the target. In doing so, the paper presents a formalist ontology of metaphors, established via an account of metaphors, as opposed to the prevailing cognitivist-conceptualist account which I characterize as . The various kinds of metaphor – linguistic, poetic, visual or material – are based on their external structure, rather than an internal-conceptual mechanism of understanding, as assumed by a significant segment of the literature. Visual metaphor, therefore, is the paradigmatic kind of metaphor, the analysis of which can be generalized to other kinds of metaphor.

Furthermore, the paper tries to overcome the current discrepancy between the formalist character of the metaphorical medium and the dominance of cognitivist and conceptualist theories of metaphor. Challenging these, I claim that if the identity of metaphor is indeed based on its composition, then it is actually based on its aesthetic qualities. That is to say, not only are there autonomous visual or material metaphors, that are not based on linguistic or conceptual ones, but linguistic and conceptual metaphors are based on visuality: they are enabled by the structural possibilities offered by visual media.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Aldrich, Virgil C.
    (1971) “Form in the Visual Arts,” British Journal of Aesthetics11, no.3 (summer 1971), 215–226. 10.1093/bjaesthetics/11.3.215
    https://doi.org/10.1093/bjaesthetics/11.3.215 [Google Scholar]
  2. (1968) “Visual Metaphor”. Journal of Aesthetic Education, Vol.2, No.1, 73–86. 10.2307/3331241
    https://doi.org/10.2307/3331241 [Google Scholar]
  3. Arnheim, Rudolf
    (1969) Visual Thinking. Berkeley: University of California Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. (1974) Art and Visual Perception: A Psychology of the Creative Eye. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Black, Max
    (1954) “Metaphor,” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, new series 55May. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 273–294.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Camp, Elisabeth
    (2006) “Metaphor and That Certain ‘Je Ne Sais Quoi’”. Philosophical Studies (2006) 129:1–25. 10.1007/s11098‑005‑3019‑5
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11098-005-3019-5 [Google Scholar]
  7. Carroll, Noel
    (1994) “Visual Metaphor”. Jakko Hintika (ed.). Aspects of Metaphor. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 189–218. 10.1007/978‑94‑015‑8315‑2_6
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-015-8315-2_6 [Google Scholar]
  8. Danto, Arthur C.
    1981The Transfiguration of the Commonplace: a philosophy of art. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Gibbs, Raymond W. Jr.
    (2011) “Evaluating Conceptual Metaphor Theory”, Discourse Processes48(8), 529–562. 10.1080/0163853X.2011.606103
    https://doi.org/10.1080/0163853X.2011.606103 [Google Scholar]
  10. (2014) “Embodied Metaphor”. Jeannette Littlemore, John R. Taylor (eds.). The Bloomsbury Companion to Cognitive Linguistics. London: Bloomsbury.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Gombrich, Ernst
    (1984) Art and Illusion2nd Edition. London: Phaidon Press/ Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  12. Goodman, Nelson
    (1976) Languages of Art: an approach to a theory of symbols. Indianapolis: Hackett.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Hausman, Carl R.
    (1975) A Discourse on Novelty and Creation. Dordrecht: Springer. 10.1007/978‑94‑010‑1666‑7
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-010-1666-7 [Google Scholar]
  14. Hausman, Carl
    (1989) Metaphor and Art: interactionism and reference in the verbal and nonverbal arts. New York, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. (1991) “Language and Metaphysics: The Ontology of Metaphor”. Philosophy & Rhetoric, Vol.24, No.1 (1991), 25–42.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Hesse, Mary
    (1988) “The Cognitive Claims of Metaphor” The Journal of Speculative PhilosophyVolumeII, Number1. University Park: The Pennsylvania University Press, 1–16.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Johnson, Mark
    (2015) “Embodied understanding”. Frontiers in Psychology. 6:875. 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00875
    https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00875 [Google Scholar]
  18. (2017) Embodied mind, meaning, and reason: how our bodies give rise to understanding. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. 10.7208/chicago/9780226500393.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226500393.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  19. Kövecses, Zoltán
    (2010) Metaphor: A practical introduction, 2nd Edition. New York: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. (2017) “Conceptual Metaphor Theory”. Elena Semino & Zsófia Demjén (eds.). The Routledge Handbook of Metaphor and Language. New York: Routledge, 13–27.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Lakoff, George
    (1990) “The invariance hypothesis: Is abstract reason based on image-schemas?”. Cognitive Linguistics, 1(1), 39–74. 10.1515/cogl.1990.1.1.39
    https://doi.org/10.1515/cogl.1990.1.1.39 [Google Scholar]
  22. (1993) “The contemporary theory of metaphor”. A. Ortony (ed.), Metaphor and thought. 2nd edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 202–251. 10.1017/CBO9781139173865.013
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139173865.013 [Google Scholar]
  23. Lakoff, George, Johnson, Mark
    (1980, 2003) Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Lakoff, George, Johnson Mark
    (1999) Philosophy in the flesh. The embodied mind and its challenge to Western thought. New York: Basic Books.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Peacocke, Christopher
    (2009) “The Perception of Music: sources and significance”. British Journal of Aesthetics49, 257–275. 10.1093/aesthj/ayp016
    https://doi.org/10.1093/aesthj/ayp016 [Google Scholar]
  26. (2010) Music and Experiencing Metaphorically-As: Further Delineation. British Journal of Aesthetics50:2, pp.189–91. doi:  10.1093/aesthj/ayq005
    https://doi.org/10.1093/aesthj/ayq005 [Google Scholar]
  27. Richards, Ivor A.
    (1965 [1936]) The Philosophy of Rhetoric. London and New York: Oxford University Press. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Searle, John R.
    (1979) “Metaphor”. Expression and Meaning: Studies in the Theory of Speech Acts. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, pp.76–116. 10.1017/CBO9780511609213.006
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511609213.006 [Google Scholar]
  29. Serig, Daniel
    (2008) Visual Metaphor and the Contemporary Artist: Ways of Thinking and Making. VDM Verlag Dr. Müller.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Steen, Gerard J.
    (2017) “Attention to Metaphor: Where Embodied Cognition and Social Interaction Can Meet, But May Not Often Do So”. 57. Hampe, Beate (ed.). Metaphor: Embodied Cognition and Discourse. (pp.279–296). 10.1017/9781108182324.016
    https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108182324.016 [Google Scholar]
  31. Stern, Joseph
    2000Metaphors in Context. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error