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Metaphor scholars have long debated whether the possibility that metaphor is “conceptual” or possibly “embodied” ignores crucial social and linguistic facts about metaphor in discourse. Scholars adopting either of the “embodied” and “discourse” views of metaphor typically advance different theories on the origins, motivations, functions, and uses of metaphors in language and thought. These different theoretical perspectives are also generally studied by scholars from different academic disciplines that employ very different empirical methods (e.g. discourse analyses vs. experimental techniques). My aim in this chapter is to show how these different perspectives are closely related given (a) the embodied nature of metaphoric discourse and (b) the social context for all embodied action. Rather than arguing for the superiority of one approach over the other, my plea is for a better integration of these views to capture the complex realities of metaphoric experience.
The study of metaphor is now firmly established as a central topic within cognitive science and the humanities. We marvel at the creative dexterity of gifted speakers and writers for their special talents in both thinking about certain ideas in new ways, and communicating these thoughts in vivid, poetic forms. Yet metaphors may not only be special communicative devices, but a fundamental part of everyday cognition in the form of 'conceptual metaphors'. An enormous body of empirical evidence from cognitive linguistics and related disciplines has emerged detailing how conceptual metaphors underlie significant aspects of language, thought, cultural and expressive action. Despite its influence and popularity, there have been major criticisms of conceptual metaphor. This book offers an evaluation of the arguments and empirical evidence for and against conceptual metaphors, much of which scholars on both sides of the wars fail to properly acknowledge.