Edited by Karolina Krawczak, Barbara Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk and Marcin Grygiel
[Human Cognitive Processing 73] 2022
► pp. 15–46
Contrast and analogy are viewed in the context of a much larger picture. They are traced back to an essential feature of living organisms: their constant engagement in energy-driven activity responsible for maintenance and growth. Structure and regularity inhere in the organization imposed by this “striving for control”. For sentient creatures, this striving involves the fundamental capacity to compare experiences and detect any difference between them. Contrast and analogy are aspects of comparison that figure in even minimal, low-level cases (like perceiving a difference in pitch); contrast is just the registration of discrepancy, while analogy resides in the similarity providing the basis for assessment. They are thus inherent in an abstract model of the striving for control and the growth it engenders. This model offers a general characterization of their myriad linguistic manifestations, being applicable to any kind of experience (perceptual, motor, mental, social) at any level of organization. Here I examine the role of contrast and analogy in three broad aspects of language structure: paradigmatic relations, including categorization and systemic organization; syntagmatic relations, i.e. the formation of complex expressions and discourse sequences; and the conceptual structures these invoke, notably cases (like modals and negation) where the striving for control is central to their content.