Chapter published in:How Metaphors Guide, Teach and Popularize Science
Edited by Anke Beger and Thomas H. Smith
[Figurative Thought and Language 6] 2020
► pp. 263–295
The brain is a computer and the mind is its program
Following a metaphor’s path from its birth to teaching philosophy decades later
This chapter analyzes three stops along the life path of the influential metaphor the brain is a computer and the mind is its program. At the first two stops, the philosophers Searle, Hofstadter and Dennett argue about the literal truth of this metaphor in two academic papers. They embed the metaphor in complex metaphorical analogies, i.e., deliberate metaphors, for primarily persuasive purposes. The last stop analyzed is an academic lecture in philosophy which aims at explaining the metaphorical reasoning of the philosophers. The analysis focuses on the professor’s modifications of one of Searle’s deliberate metaphors. These modifications result in a misrepresentation of Searle’s view on the mind. Linguistic evidence indicates that this misrepresentation influences the students’ concept of the mind.
Keywords: recontextualization of metaphors, deliberate metaphors, metaphor across genres, deliberate metaphor use in academic articles, deliberate metaphor use in academic lectures
Published online: 22 April 2020
Deignan, A., Littlemore J., & Semino, E.
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