“Metaphor is as ultimate as speech itself, and speech as ultimate as thought. Metaphor appears as the instinctive and necessary act of the mind exploring reality and ordering experience.”(Murry, 1931: 1-2)
If the mind is a connecting organ, as is widely acknowledged today, metaphor can be regarded as a force of conceptual binding (between distant conceptual domains) and metonymy as a force of conceptual spreading (inside and across adjacent conceptual domains). Both forces together make the human mind and human language what they are. They are inherent in the basic structure of human language and in the basic structure of the human mind. And I would add: they, especially metaphor, are inherent in the basic structure of human society and human action too, as they connect fact and fiction, they connect people, they connect discourses, they connect the past, the present, and the future, and, most importantly, they connect what we do and think now with what we do or not do or think next, depending on how we imagine the future to be. It is my contention that metaphors contribute to neurological, conceptual and social coherence, integration and change.
This article is based on a paper first given at the Mind, Language and Metaphor – EuroConference on Consciousness and the Imagination, Kerkrade, April 20-24, 2002, funded by the European Science Foundation. The author would also like to thank the Leverhulme Trust which supports the Institute for the Study of Genetics, Biorisks and Society, University of Nottingham, UK