A Cognitive Semantics Approach to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution

xiii Introduction to emphasize the presence of metaphors in The Origin was Darwin himself, and many of his contemporaries noted this fact as well. However, to the best of our knowledge there has been no systematic analysis of the conceptual metaphors present in the theory of evolution. Next to the study of metaphors and conceptual blends in Darwin’s theory and in scientific discourse, we make some observations concerning personification – its definition and identification in discourse – provoked by the conceptualization of natural selection in the theory of evolution. We want to argue that the definition of personification should include a more encompassing characterization of its source domain (PERSON) and that personification should not be confused with a g e n t i f i c a t i o n , a metaphor we propose to exist alongside personification. The main body of data for our analysis is the first edition of The Origin by Charles Darwin (1859). Although five later editions of The Origin were published within Darwin’s lifetime, many researchers believe that in the first edition, before he started to modify it in response to criticism, Darwin’s ideas are presented in their purest form (see Dawkins [1987] 1996, Quammen 2002, Ruse 2003). On the other hand, some of the alternations Darwin introduced to the text are a valuable source of information on the effect that his metaphors had on his readers, hence reference to later editions is made as well. In this study, the pdf of the original 1859 edition by John Murray available on the Darwin Online webpage was used. Apart from The Origin, popular science texts on evolution are analyzed to investigate the developments of Darwin’s metaphors. They include papers and books by distinguished evolutionists (e.g. Richard Dawkins, Steven Jay Gould), texts on evolutionary theory found on various internet sites, and graphic presentations of the theory. We believe that the way Darwin’s theory is communicated, both in verbal and pictorial form, provides rich and valuable material for research in Cognitive Semantics. Firstly, the data is plentiful, easy to obtain and diverse, including texts of various levels of formality, from scientific papers written by distinguished scholars to popular texts directed at young readers to texts produced by proponents and opponents of the theory. Although this book makes use only of a small sample of the available data, it highlights the possibilities for further studies. Secondly, early texts on evolution written by Charles Darwin provide a well-documented record of his framing of the theory. A researcher can study not only The Origin, but also Darwin’s notebooks and letters, in which background information on some of the metaphors can be found. In other words, there is a record of the theory’s creation