A Cognitive Semantics Approach to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution

12 A Cognitive Semantics Approach to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution Such metaphors are grounded in the spatial orientation of the human body – up–down, center–periphery, near–far, etc. – as well as cultural experience. Lakoff and Johnson provide a wide range of examples elaborating the up– down orientation: HIGH STATUS IS UP; LOW STATUS IS DOWN He’s at the peak of his career. He’s at the bottom of the social hierarchy. VIRTUE IS UP, DEPRAVITY IS DOWN She has high standards. That was a low trick. RATIONAL IS UP; EMOTIONAL IS DOWN The discussion fell to the emotional level, but I raised it back to the rational plane. (1980: 15–17) Finally, there are ontological metaphors, whose cognitive function is to give ontological status to general categories of abstract target concepts […], which means that we conceive of our experiences in terms of objects, substances, and containers, in general, without specifying exactly what kind of object, substance or container is meant. (Kövecses 2002: 34) Thus, our interaction with material objects provides a basis for reasoning about non-material aspects of our experience, that is, “to refer to them, categorize them, group them, and quantify them” (Lakoff & Johnson 1980: 25). Once a non-physical thing is conceptualized as an OBJECT, it can be further elaborated through the rich mappings of structural metaphors; for instance, the ontological metaphor the mind is an entity can be elaborated as: the mind is a machine (e.g. We’ve been working on this problem all day and now we’re running out of steam) or the mind is a brittle object (e.g. Her ego is very fragile. I’m going to pieces) (Lakoff & Johnson 1980: 27–28). When discussing ontological metaphors, Lakoff and Johnson (1980: 29– 34) highlight the role of the container metaphor and personification, which they classify as subtypes of ontological metaphors. In the container metaphor the in–out orientation of our bodies and bounded physical objects is projected onto physical perceptions devoid of clear boundaries (e.g. territories or substances), onto our visual field and onto events, actions, activities or states: (3) (a) There is a lot of land in Kansas. (b) He fell into ice-cold water. (c) The ship is coming into view. (d)Are you in the race on Sunday? (e) He’s immersed in washing the windows right now. (f) He’s in love.