A Cognitive Semantics Approach to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution

13 1. Theoretical Background: Cognitive Semantics Personification, on the other hand, involves the projection of human characteristics or activities onto nonhuman or even nonphysical targets. Lakoff and Johnson (1980: 33) provide the following examples to illustrate cases in which nonhuman concepts, such as theory, religion or inflation, are given human qualities, such as explaining, telling or robbing (see also Kövecses 2002: 35): (4) (a) His theory explained to me the behavior of chickens raised in factories. (b) His religion tells him that he cannot drink fine French wines. (c) Inflation has robbed me of my savings. According to Kövecses, “personification makes use of one of the best source domains we have – ourselves. In personifying nonhumans as humans, we begin to understand them a little better” (2002: 35). In the light of further analysis and in the context of studies on scientific discourse, such statement seems problematic. While the concept of a person is undeniably a rich and active source domain that can facilitate reasoning and communication, the personification of an abstract concept does not necessarily lead to a clearer and more accurate understanding, as is so crucial in science. We return to these issues in section 5.5., where Darwin’s conceptualization of natural selection is discussed. Lakoff and Johnson (1980) devote much attention to ontological metaphors and they highlight the various and fundamental purposes that such metaphors can perform (i.e. identifying, categorizing, referring, or quantifying), and yet they state that ontological metaphors “serve a very limited range of purposes,” which is why linguistic expressions exemplifying ontological metaphors are typically not noticed as metaphorical (1980: 27). While ontological metaphors indeed frequently pass unnoticed, it is difficult to agree that their usage is limited. The weakness of such an approach to ontological metaphors and of the whole classification system has been noticed, amended and extended by Aleksander Szwedek as the objectification theory and has been presented in a number of papers (2000, 2002, 2009a, 2009b, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014). The main issues concerning objectification are outlined in the following section. 1.1.5. Objectification Szwedek proposes an alternative approach to metaphor analysis and typology, based on a strict distinction between material and phenomenological worlds (2014: 342). He observes that the material world of objects, “constantly and