Publication details [#3257]

Campbell, Jay G. 1992. A critical survey of some recent philosophical theories of metaphor. St. Louis, Mo.. xxvi, 258 pp.


Metaphors raise several problems for semantic theory and the philosophy of language. How, for example, is metaphorical language distinguished from literal language? Do metaphors have a linguistic or semantic meaning beyond the literal meaning of the words? Are metaphors either true or false? An adequate semantic theory of natural language must address these questions. As its title indicates, my dissertation is a critical examination of several recent philosophical theories of metaphor. I examine six such theories, distinguishing semantic from nonsemantic approaches. In semantic theories of metaphor, metaphorical meaning is treated as a form of sentence or linguistic meaning. L. J. Cohen, Joseph Stern, and Israel Scheffler and Catherine Elgin offer semantic theories of metaphor. A critical examination of these three theories is presented in Chapters 1-3. Nonsemantic theories of metaphor reject the notion of metaphorical sentence or word meaning. Donald Davidson, John Searle, and Robert Fogelin take a nonsemantic approach to metaphor. Donald Davidson argues that metaphorical meaning is neither sentence nor speaker's meaning, while John Searle and Robert Fogelin argue that metaphorical meaning is a form of speaker's meaning. I present and criticize these three theories in Chapters 4 and 5. In chapter 5, I defend Fogelin's theory against several recent objections, and argue that though it is not a complete theory of metaphor, his version of the elliptical-simile theory is the most promising of recent theories of metaphor. (Jay Campbell)