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Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies / Revue de l'Association Internationale de Sémiotique

Editor-in-Chief: Danesi, Marcel

6 Issues per year

CiteScore 2016: 0.32

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Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2016: 0.819

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Volume 2006, Issue 161 (Aug 2006)


The stuff metaphor is made on

Harwood Fisher
  • Professor Emeritus of City College of the City of New York and a founding member of Cognition, Language, Information Project (CLIP).
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Published Online: 2006-11-10 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/SEM.2006.060


How do you describe the ‘nature of metaphor’? Two dilemmas block your path. The first occurs when you encounter the metaphor's status as ‘real’ in the face of its mere symbolic reference to objects. A second dilemma occurs when you look inward to describe the origin of metaphor. Although this look focuses the inner self as originator, it also reveals a mind-boggling question. How does your look inward relate to that of others?

Resolution 1: A logical level analysis of metaphor reveals similarities of the forms of thought, which point to the ‘real’ nature of inner experience. Resolution 2: ‘Metaphorizing’ requires a logic of the imaginary — a set of forms, which accommodate an exchange of originating by ‘dramatist’ and ‘audience.’

The major assumptions are these: To describe the nature of metaphor requires a look inward from which to see formal similarities and origins. A focus on formal cause provides a robust account of how a thinker originates a metaphor. The regularities constraining the thinker looking inward are the same for other persons looking inward. These regularities are classifiable in terms of semiotic and logical phenomena by which parallel thinking is communicative and to some extent collaborative.

About the article

Harwood Fisher

Harwood Fisher (b. 1933). His research interests include the issue of subjectivity, and logical and semiotic structures of tropes and their relation to the self. His recent publications include ‘Metonomy, metaphor, and category’ (1998); The Subjective Self: A portrait of Logical Space (2001); ‘Post-modern agency’ (2003); and ‘Categories as embodied objects’ (2003).

Published Online: 2006-11-10

Published in Print: 2006-08-01

Citation Information: Semiotica, ISSN (Online) 1613-3692, ISSN (Print) 0037-1998, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/SEM.2006.060.

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