Workshop “Metaphors of the Mind: Inferences, Imagination, and Sublimation”

Event Date: May 22, 2017

9.30 Academic Approach: “Metaphors of the Mind: Inferences and Imagination”
17.30 Artistic Approach: “Sublimation as Metaphor”
19.00 Momus in concert

Academic Approach: “Metaphors of the Mind: Inferences and Imagination”
Right now, your mind is processing this sentence. Yet did your mind literally process that sentence, like a computer does? It seems not. More plausibly, ‘processing’ is a kind of metaphor here, taken from the domain of computers and applied to the human mind. Our ordinary talk is shot through with such metaphors. Arguably, the same goes for scientific discourse. Is this use of metaphor innocent, even instructive? Or does it distort the reality of the thing we are talking about, the human mind, for instance, or any other topic, for that matter? The present workshop addresses these general questions about the nature and functioning of metaphors by engaging with current debates in philosophy and cognitive linguistics. To begin with, it faces the paradox that many metaphors are not perceived as such (Steen 2008) – ‘processing’ may be a case in point. Only if they are used deliberately, as in the beginning of this text, do they seem to force the reader to entertain the kind of comparison we deem distinctive of metaphor. What are the theoretical and practical implications of using metaphor deliberately as compared to using them in an unreflective way? Do we need to assume two different modes of interpretation for deliberate and conventional metaphors (Carston 2010)? What role does the imagination play here? Finally, does our ordinary talk about the mind, metaphorical as it is, turn out to be compatible with the rigorous standards of inquiry set by science and philosophy (Toon 2016)?

Carston, Robyn (2010). ‘Metaphor: Ad Hoc Concepts, Literal Meaning and Mental Images’. In: Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society,110(3), pp. 295–321.
Steen, Gerard (2008): ‘The Paradox of Metaphor: Why We Need a Three-Dimensional Model of Metaphor’. In: Metaphor and Symbol,23(4), pp. 213–241.
Toon, Adam (2016). ‘Fictionalism and the Folk’. In: The Monist,99, pp. 280–295.

Artistic Approach: “Sublimation as Metaphor”
The psychoanalytical idea of sublimation scatters hidden Easter eggs not just through subjects, but also texts. If, as Freud says, instinct and civilisation are finally incompatible, this hiding or burying action is something we must all perform in order to function. But what happens when the repressed returns? What form does it take? And can this moment be mapped to art, to politics?

Speakers and discussants:
Marianna Bolognesi (Metaphor Geeks Lab Siena, Metaphor Lab Amsterdam)
Robyn Carston (University College London)
Andreas Finsen (Metaphor Lab Amsterdam)
Giulia Frezza (University La Sapienza Rome)
Andreas Heise (Istituto Svizzero Rome, Institut Jean Nicod Paris)
Momus (Artist)
Gerard Steen (Metaphor Lab Amsterdam)
Adam Toon (University of Exeter)

Participation is free of charge. For optional registration or any other request, please contact Andreas Heise ( This event is a prequel to Inscape Rooms, the trans-disciplinary final event on 23rd of June of this year’s artistic and research fellows of the Istituto Svizzero di Roma.

Romy van den Heerik • May 9, 2017

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