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Thinking with LiteratureTowards a Cognitive Criticism$
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Terence Cave

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198749417

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198749417.001.0001

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Cognitive Figures

Cognitive Figures

(p.83) 6 Cognitive Figures
Thinking with Literature

Terence Cave

Oxford University Press

This chapter returns to the question of literary ‘images’ in relation to the everyday use of figures, arguing that they are not ‘pictures’, but sensory imaginings, affordances serving cognitive ends. The chapter focuses on small-scale examples (metaphors and other figures) drawn primarily from lyric poetry. It introduces some key arguments and terms from relevance theory: among these, the most salient are the term ‘implicatures’, and especially the phrase ‘array of implicatures’, which relevance theorists use to characterize certain kinds of poetic effect; the notion of ‘ad hoc concept’, which brings out the extent to which metaphor (like catachresis) is a mode of word-formation; and the expression ‘emergent properties’, which describes the way in which meaning emerges in the formation of an ad hoc concept. The chapter proposes a general ‘passing theory’ of figurative language, in which meanings are incrementally updated in a dynamic process of comprehension.

Keywords:   image, poetry, metaphor, implicatures, ad hoc concept, emergent properties, passing theory

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