Visual Readings of Philosophical Metaphors

Doctoral Dissertation uoadl:2778663 551 Read counter

Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Library of the School of Science
Deposit date:
Athanasiadou Alexandra
Dissertation committee:
Κατερίνα Ιεροδιακόνου - Καθηγήτρια - ΕΚΠΑ: IΦΕ
Βασιλική Κιντή - Καθηγήτρια - ΕΚΠΑ: IΦΕ
Στέλιος Βιρβιδάκης - Καθηγητής - EKΠΑ: ΙΦΕ
Φαίη Ζήκα - Αναπληρώτρια Καθηγήτρια - Τμήμα Θεωρίας και Ιστορίας Τέχνης- Ανωτάτη Σχολή Καλών Τεχνών
Παναγιώτης Πούλος - Αναπληρωτής Καθηγητής - Τμήμα Θεωρίας και Ιστορίας Τέχνης- Ανωτάτη Σχολή Καλών Τεχνών
Αικατερίνη Μπαντινάκη - Επίκουρη Καθηγήτρια - Τμήμα Φιλοσοφικών και Κοινωνικών Σπουδών - Πανεπιστήμιο Κρήτης
Μαρία Βενιέρη- Αναπληρώτρια Καθηγήτρια - Τμήμα Φιλοσοφικών και Κοινωνικών Σπουδών - Πανεπιστήμιο Κρήτης
Original Title:
H οπτική ανάγνωση της φιλοσοφικής μεταφοράς
Translated title:
Visual Readings of Philosophical Metaphors
We usually understand philosophical metaphors as literary devices. Yet many metaphors invoke interesting mental images; why do we still read them only as descriptions and not as structured images, as enriched diagrams, with juxtapositions, similarities, tensions and significant details that can give us more information on the argument/concept/idea they are referring to? It has been many decades now that we have become visually literate – why not use this skill outside its ascribed field?
This thesis presents a model of visual reading of philosophical metaphors. I claim that this is of philosophical interest for two reasons: a) because it may offer more insight to philosophical text, as it approaches descriptions from a language which is more direct and dense, such as the image b) because it enhances the cognitive role of imagination in philosophy.
There were four issues at stake which had to be addressed, which consequently defined the structure of the thesis and the organization of its chapters.
First question: How has the imagistic aspect of metaphor been perceived and treated so far by philosophers?
Second question: Can the imagistic aspect of metaphor offer more information than the traditional analysis of metaphorical speech?
Third question: Could there be a model of understanding which uses the organization and the arrangement of the mental image invoked by the reader in order to process more information?
And finally: Would that be useful for the further understanding of the philosophical text in relation to the dominant models which use imagination as a cognitive tool?

The first chapter is dedicated in creating a historical context in order to examine in what manner the image element of metaphor was perceived by philosophers. The selection of philosophers is representative of the different trends, and while divergent, it brings forward interesting examples. The chapter includes Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Ricoeur, Davidson and Lakoff.
The second chapter brings to the fore the way the image element is actually interpreted in a philosophical metaphor. For that reason there are three approaches presented: a) what we consider ‘traditional’, as it is applied in poetic and every-day speech, where the image created is treated either as a symbol or as a cluster of experience from the external world reflected on to speech in order to make theory more accessible b) the de-constructive reading where the image is processed according to the intention and the strategy of the philosopher himself c) the conceptual blending which stems from the most contemporary view of metaphor dealing with metaphor not as a language phenomenon but as a transposition of one conceptual domain to another ; in that case the image is defined in a broader sense.
The third chapter proposes a diagrammatic depiction of the mental images that are created from philosophical metaphors; it performs a visual reading and discusses its result. This visual reading results from the common practices that we use to understand pictures, foremost photographs. Once we are confronted with a photograph, (and after/while recognizing its content) we scan the syntax of the image looking for: a) patterns or similarities and b) significant details. Accordingly this look can be applied to the diagrammatic depiction of the mental images created by philosophical metaphors, in order to bring in different results to the cognitive value of the metaphor. Relevant examples are applied from Wittgenstein, Leibniz, Nietzsche and Hegel.
The fourth chapter compares this model with the dominant model in philosophy of imagination of make-believe by Kendall Walton, in order to place it in the current discussion.
Main subject category:
Philosophy - Psychology
visual reading, diagrammatic perception, photography, philosophical metaphors, metaphor
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