Publication details [#6358]

Publication type
Article in book  
Publication language
Place, Publisher
Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.


It is suggested that a workable model of metaphoric comprehension is provided in Kant's account on reflective judgment. Specifically, there are two levels of comprehension in metaphor, paralleling Kant's two kinds of reflective judgment: 1) There is a canonical, or comparative level where we comprehend in a systematic, rule-governed way, similarities between the referents of the terms of the metaphor. This is analogous to the mental act of teleological reflective judgment, in which one imaginatively reflects on various objects to find unifying concepts for them. 2) There is also a noncanonical, or interactive level of comprehension, analogous to aesthetical reflective judgment, in which the play of imagination generated by the metaphor is felt as being adequate to the ideas it organizes. This level is not rule-governed and is, therefore, not reducible to literal (determinate) concepts or language. Seen in this way, metaphors are creative products of what Kant called genius. (Mark Johnson)