A Cognitive Semantics Approach to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution

xv Introduction of The Origin in spite of criticism and misunderstanding on behalf of his readers. Each of these chapters ends with a discussion on the functions that the identified metaphors and blends have in Darwin’s theory. Contemporary developments and modifications of metaphors introduced by Darwin in The Origin are addressed in Chapter Six. Both verbal and graphic developments are considered with a view to capturing the impact that these metaphors have had on reasoning about evolution, to identify some consequences for research in the field of evolutionary biology and the ways in which natural history is presented. The conclusions from this analysis focus mainly on the functions that metaphorical conceptualizations have in the theory of evolution. Chapter Seven changes the analytical perspective. Instead of focusing on conceptual metaphors and blends in evolutionary discourse, it investigates the possibility of redefining the metaphor of personification. In the chapter, various definitions of personification are presented together with a proposal for a revised definition utilizing human behavioral domains distinguished in cognitive archaeology. A metaphor of a g e n t i f i c a t i o n , distinct from personification, is also proposed to account for some of the difficulties reported by researchers in identification of personification and to explain some controversies around the reception of Darwin’s description of natural selection. Finally, several clarifications need to be made. This book was written by a cognitive linguist, not an evolutionary biologist or a philosopher of science. Although we hope that biologists and philosophers may find some observations interesting, the methodology and focus of the research remain firmly linguistic. However, at places, it seemed necessary to provide some background concerning Darwin’s work. While some evolutionary biologists may find such explanations simplistic or redundant, the explanations are aimed primarily at linguists. The next point of clarification concerns the analysis of The Origin. When exposed to numerous passages from Darwin’s book illustrating conceptual metaphors, the reader may come to the conclusion that Darwin’s language is extremely metaphorical. Hence, it must be stressed that in The Origin there are whole chapters presenting empirical data with no metaphors related to evolution. Moreover, when compared to some popular scientists, for example, by Richard Dawkins, Darwin appears to be very parsimonious with his use of metaphors. Thus, we do not want to argue that Darwin’s language is metaphorical but that metaphors are important in framing the theory. Thirdly, and most emphatically, we do not want to make any claims about the validity of Darwin’s theory. The mere presence of