Conceptual Metaphors of Science Prolegomena to a Cognitive History of Science
Journal of Foreign Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics
The cognitive abilities explained by cognitive science and cognitive semantics can inform us concerning the use of metaphors in science. The thesis is that abstract ideas rest on experiences of the concrete world. In this paper I will explain the use of conceptual metaphors in science, with examples from the mechanistic worldview of the 17th and 18th century. If we proceed from the way people think in general, their mental abilities, reason and cognition, we could get close to an understanding
... o an understanding of how scientists during the scientific revolution shaped their ideas about the invisible geometry of matter. This is a cognitive history of ideas. What is called the 'cognitive turn' in the humanities has generated vigorous growth of research, for example, in cognitive poetics, neuroaesthetics, and cognitive anthropology. These approaches try to arrive at an understanding of creative processes. In the historical sciences there is also a growing interest in cognitive-historical analyses, particularly in archaeology and history of science. The aim of the cognitive history of science is to reconstruct scientific thinking on the basis of cognitive theories. The starting point for a cognitive history of ideas that I defend here is that philosophy, science, and mathematics do not really happen just in texts, in language, in laboratories, or in social contexts, but in brains and minds in interaction with the world around the subject, and are thus connected to the body, to perception, thoughts, and feelings. We humans are captured in our brains situated in the world, we are dependent on our thoughts and senses, our prior knowledge, our mental images, when we try to create a picture of the world. Science, in other words, is shaped by our distinctive way of reasoning, not least in metaphors.