BL4: Conceptual Metaphors

Darwin and the metaphors describing the world of evolution

STRUGGLE FOR LIFE, MARCH OF PROGRESS and TREE OF LIFE are Darwin’s best recognized metaphors used to conceptualize evolution. BL Vol. 4 investigates these and many more in an attempt to address the role of figurative language in talking and thinking about evolution.

Anna Drogosz on her book, A Cognitive Semantics Approach to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution (2019):

The variety of metaphors in Darwin’s (1859) On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life is best illustrated by images of NATURE itself:

The Left collage portrays an iguana’s steadfast transition from water onto land; Galapagos iguana pairs together face against solitary challengers; and a pair of Galapagos tortoise are seen in strife. In the crown of the collage is the regimented octagonal honey comb of hive bees, while the in base of the collage lies the irregular bubble cells of honey comb produced by humble bees – a juxtaposition of co-existence. The scene is dominated by MOVEMENT, TRANSITION and CO-EXISTENCE; it pulsates with STRIFE, solitude, but also alliance and companionship.

The Right collage forms a dynamic circle of creatures in snapshots around an elegantly perched blue-footed Booby. The images encapsulate every perspective, from aerial views (a Galapagos Island above and a Galapagos Gull to the right), to land scenes (Galapagos penguins engaged in primping; the elegant blue-footed Booby resting its head; a red-footed Booby mother coddling its nestling; and a sunbathing sea lion on a strand of sand); to the underwater sea-scapes below (a diving Galapagos sea turtle, linking the gull to Galapagos anemones at the sea bottom). This majestic synchrony takes us on a JOURNEY through land, air, and sea, both UP and DOWN, around the cyclic nature of FAMILY and LIFE.

The two collages are linked in the middle and pivot aside a Galapagos light house which is meant to loosely symbolize a TREE OF LIFE – with its figurative light branching out to all images.

From Darwin’s own sketches:

Charles Darwin’s 1837 sketch of an evolutionary tree (First Notebook on Transmutation of Species, 1837).

Read more about all this, and more, in Anna Drogosz‘s Vol. 4, A Cognitive Semantics Approach to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution of the BL series.