A Cognitive Semantics Approach to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution

2 A Cognitive Semantics Approach to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution The status of metaphor in CMT should be considered vis-à-vis the views on the possibility of description of reality through the medium of language and the distinction between the literal and figurative, the issues inevitably connected with science. Ortony (1993: 1–10) discusses two alternative approaches to these issues: constructivism and non-constructivism. The latter assumes that reality can be objectively described through the medium of literal language, that literal and metaphorical language can be precisely differentiated, and that only literal language is to be used in scientific discourse. Metaphor, in that view, is seen as deviant and parasitic upon normal, that is literal, language usage. The former view, on the other hand, assumes that “the objective world is not directly accessible but is constructed on the basis of the constraining influences of human knowledge and language” and cognition itself “is the result of mental construction” (Ortony 1993: 1). It emphasizes creative nature of language, thus undermining any sharp distinction between the metaphorical and literal, and finding for them no cognitive foundations. In this view, metaphor is postulated to play a central role in the way in which we think and talk about the world. CMT subscribes to the constructivist approach and Lakoff and Johnson make it clear right from the start when they say that “metaphor is pervasive in everyday life, not just in language but in thought and action” and that “our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature” (1980: 3). 1.1.1. Embodiment and experientialism The extensive body of research within the field of Conceptual Metaphor Theory operates on the basis of three fundamental assumptions: • conceptual metaphors, understood as entrenched conceptual patterns, are ubiquitous in language and thought; • metaphorical mappings are systematic and embodied; • metaphorical mappings tend to be asymmetrical. In the context of the current research on how the theory of evolution is communicated, the most important seems to be the embodiment hypothesis, or the claim that linguistic conceptualizations are grounded in physical, cognitive, social and cultural human experience. Broadly understood, “the embodiment hypothesis is the claim that human physical, cognitive, and social embodiment ground our conceptual and linguistic systems” (Rohrer 2007: 27). Within this definition two broad meanings of e mb o d i m e n t stand