A Cognitive Semantics Approach to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution

6 A Cognitive Semantics Approach to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution “First, image schemas are developmentally prior to conceptual thinking, at least insofar as conceptual structure is accessible to us by means of language. Second, […] [they] are preconceptual in that they can underlay multiple different conceptual metaphors” (2007: 35–6). It is tempting to consider a third, evolutionary, argument, whereby image schemas can be theorized to constitute the earliest phylogenetic stage of building abstract thought and reason by reference to the physical reality accessible through the senses. Such a possibility, however, demands extensive research going far beyond the scope of Cognitive Linguistics. Johnson (1987: 126) lists the following most important image schemas: container, balance, compulsion, blockage, counterforce, restraint, removal, enablement, attraction, mass count, path, link, center–periphery, cycle, near–far, scale, part–whole, merging, splitting, full–empty, matching, superimposition, iteration, contact, process, surface, object, collection. The completeness of the list and potential hierarchical structuring within this list is open to debate, however the nature of image schemas is not the main concern of this study and is limited to their role in framing the theory of evolution. 1.1.3. Conceptual metaphor: mappings, directionality and the Invariance Principle Let us turn now to the notion of conceptual metaphor, fundamental in Cognitive Semantics, and pivotal for this study. Lakoff and Johnson (1980: 5) define conceptual metaphor as “understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another.” Johnson provides a richer definition. According to him, metaphor can be conceived as a pervasive mode of understanding by which we project patterns from one domain of experience in order to structure another domain of a different kind. So conceived, metaphor is not merely a linguistic mode of expression; rather, it is one of the chief cognitive structures by which we are able to have coherent, ordered experiences that we can reason about and make sense of. Through metaphor, we make use of patterns that obtain in our physical experience to organize our more abstract understanding. (1987: xv) Lakoff and Johnson (1980) label the two domains of experience involved in metaphorical projections the source and target domain. Instead of using well-worn examples to illustrate these terms, let us anticipate the analysis in the following chapters and use data from this study. For instance, when