Are ‘deliberate’ metaphors really deliberate?
A question of human consciousness and action
Some metaphor scholars have proposed that certain notable metaphorical expressions in speech and writing may have been deliberately composed, and quite consciously employed for their special rhetorical purposes. Deliberate metaphors are different from conventional ones, which are typically produced automatically and thoughtlessly, something that speakers and listeners, authors and readers, tacitly recognize when they engage in metaphoric discourse. This article explores some of these common assumptions about deliberate metaphor in light of contemporary research in cognitive science on meaning, consciousness and human action. My claim is that deliberate metaphors, contrary to the popular view, may not be as ‘deliberate’ in their creation and use as is traditionally believed, and therefore are not essentially different from other forms of metaphoric language. Moreover, engaging in deliberative thought processes is often exactly the wrong way to create novel, apt verbal metaphors.
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