Academic Journal of Modern Philology vol. 5 (2016)
The University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn
Darwin’s Metaphors. A Cognitive Semantics Analysis of the Theory of Evolution
The objective of the paper is to present a Cognitive Semantics approach to Darwin’s theory of evolution. An analysis of the text of The Origin of Species allowed to identify a number of conceptual metaphors, such as: EVOLUTIONARY CHANGE IS A JOURNEY, MODIFICATION IS SUBSTANCE, ORGANISMS ARE FAMILY MEMBERS, RELATIONSHIPS AMONG ORGANISMS ARE STRUGGLE, and personification of natural selection. The metaphors are illustrated by excerpts from Darwin’s book. It is claimed that conceptual metaphors contribute to coherence of Darwin’s argument, help to present the theory in a comprehensive and interesting way, and have impact on evolutionary reasoning due to metaphorical entailments. The analysis provides evidence that the logic of the evolutionary theory derives partially from the logic of source domains through which the fundamental concepts of change and relationships among organisms are conceptualized. Finally, it is argued that evolutionary texts offer a rich source of well-documented materials valuable for diachronic studies of metaphor in scientific discourse, beginning with Darwin’s notebooks, through his books, and then over 150 years of evolutionary texts, both scientific and popular, by various authors. It is also believed that a Cognitive Semantics analysis can provide useful insights for better understanding the evolutionary theory as well as controversies around its presentation and reception.
Keywords: Darwin, conceptual metaphor, metaphor in scientific discourse.