A Cognitive Semantics Approach to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution

16 A Cognitive Semantics Approach to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution concerning the evidence from linguistic data is due, specifically an analysis of the concept of thought. Szwedek claims THOUGHT to be one of the most abstract entities in our lives (e.g. 2014: 354). However, it appears that the scientific concepts, like those introduced by Darwin, are even more abstract, inasmuch as we can grade abstractness. While thought is undeniably abstract, at least we have first-hand experience concerning its existence and functioning, even though it is not a sensory experience. However, concepts such as natural selection or evolutionary change cannot be experienced at all. Although in this book we follow the main ideas of Szwedek’s theory of objectification, some reservations need to be made. Firstly, his term o b j e c - t i f i c a t i o n proposed to highlight the role of physical objects and the OBJECT schema in conceptualizing nonphysical concepts is not to be confused with Langacker’s use of this term. In Langacker’s model, objectification is contrasted with subjectification and is related to “the construal relation between a conceptualizer and the conception he entertains, i.e. between the subject and object of conception” (Langacker 1991: 215). That is why in other models (e.g. Krzeszowski 1997), the term r e i f i c a t i o n is also used to cover the phenomenon described by Szwedek. Secondly, Szwedek argues for the privileged status of OBJECT as an ultimate source domain of metaphorization giving priory to the sense of touch over other senses. This approach is not devoid of problems. For one thing, the domain of physical matter is heterogeneous. It involves both bounded objects and unbounded substances and thus displays prototypicality effects as natural categories do. All this makes a significant difference in conceptualization when the domain OBJECT is a source domain of a metaphor. We discuss such differences in section 3.2.4. in connection to Darwin’s conceptualization of species. The other problem concerns Szwedek’s proposals for the phylogenesis of metaphorization. Szwedek assumes that concrete-to-concrete metaphorical mappings must have preceded any other mappings and that communication about the physical world must have been the earliest stage of human communication. Such views stand in opposition to theories which argue for the social basis of language development (see Dunbar 1993, Mithen [1996] 1998) and which take the domain of experience with material objects, that is the technical domain, to be only one of the behavioral domains relevant for the development of metaphorical thought and language. These models postulate that crossing the conceptual borders between the social, technical and natural history domains stands behind the human capacity for imagination, art, abstract