On Davidson’s Metaphor TheoryTuncay Turna
Davidson placed his critical approach mostly opposite the semantic theories of metaphor. Accordingly, metaphors – as the opposite of these theories – should to be assumed as having only one meaning. Davidson distinguished statements as matters of meaning and use. Metaphors have only one meaning and are clearly false expressions. However, speakers are mostly disposed to state expressions that they believe to be true. Therefore, uttering a false expression on purpose must not be a matter of meaning but of use. Metaphors are matters of use due to their falsity and affect the listener similar to a nudge. One result of this effect may be to make comparisons or find some similarities. However, these processes occur after finding out meanings, so they cannot be semantic. Therefore, Davidson considered metaphoric expressions to be neither cognitive, semantic, nor propositional. Furthermore, he denied the views in theories that look at metaphors as elliptical similes. In addition one of his positive definitions of him, relies on Wittgenstein’s rabbit-duck visual (R-D illusion). Accordingly, metaphors cause not one thing to be seen but one thing to be seen as another. As such, the phenomenon of seeing-as is a good way to explain metaphors. I will examine the three important features of Davidson’s theory in this study, after giving the main points of Davidson’s theory of metaphor. The first is the relationship between metaphors and similes and their problems. The second one is the problems of explaining metaphors by seeing-as. The last one is related to the claim that metaphors have only one meaning. Despite the problems of this claim, I shall try to show the aspects of the claim that provide solutions as good as if not better than semantic or pragmatic metaphor theories. Also, I shall attempt to establish the relationships among Davidson’s theory of metaphor, his own theory of meaning, and other theories of metaphor.
Davidson’ın Metafor Kuramı ÜzerineTuncay Turna
Davidson, özellikle semantik metafor kuramlarına karşı eleştirel bir yaklaşım geliştirir. Ona göre metafor, bu kuramların aksine, tek anlamlı olarak kabul edilmelidir. Bunun için ifadeleri, anlamla ve kullanımla ilgili olarak ikiye ayırır. Metafor tek anlamlı ve açıkça yanlış bir ifadedir. Fakat birisi, çoğunlukla, doğru olduğuna inandığı ifadeler dile getirme eğilimindedir. Bu nedenle, bilerek yanlış bir ifade dile getirmek anlamla değil; kullanımla ilgili olmalıdır. Metaforlar yanışlıklarından dolayı kullanımla ilgilidir ve muhatapta dürtmeye benzer bir etki ortaya çıkarırlar. Bu etkinin bir neticesi bazı karşılaştırmalar yapmak ve bazı benzerlikler bulmak olabilir. Ancak bunlar, anlamadan sonra gerçekleşen şeyler olduğu için anlamsal olmayacaktır. Dolayısıyla Davidson, metafor ifadelerin bilişsel, anlamsal ve önermesel olmadıklarını düşünür. Ayrıca metaforları eksiltilmiş benzetme olarak gören kuramların görüşlerini kabul etmez. Metaforla ilgili, sınırlı olumlu tanımlarından birisi ise Wittgenstein’ın tavşanördek görseline (T-Ö kafası) dayanır. Buna göre, metaforlar bir şeyi görmeyi değil ama bir şeyi, başka bir şey olarak-görmeyi sağlar. Dolayısıyla olarak-görme metaforu açıklamak için iyi bir yoldur. Bu çalışmada, Davidson’ın metafor kuramının ana hatlarını verdikten sonra, onun üç önemli özelliği bağlamında bir inceleme yapacağım. İlki, metaforla benzetme/benzerlik ilişkileri ve bunlarla ilgili sorunlardır. Diğeri metaforu olarak-görme ile açıklamanın sorunlarıdır. Sonuncusu ise metaforun tek anlamlı olduğu savıyla ilgilidir. Bu savın sorunlu yanlarına rağmen, semantik ve pragmatik metafor kuramları kadar iyi çalışan bir özellikte olduğunu göstermeye çalışacağım. Bununla birlikte, çoğunlukla, Davidson’ın kendi anlam kuramıyla ve başka metafor kuramlarıyla ilişkileri de göstermeyi deneyeceğim.
Davidson offers an unfamiliar negative definition of metaphor, especially across from the semantic theories of metaphor in his article ‘What Metaphors Mean’ (WMM: 1978). What Davidson denies is assumption that metaphors have cognitive content and secondary metaphorical meanings. This way of explaining metaphors is a central mistake that has occured since Aristotle to contemporary theorists such as Richards, Black, Goodman and Henle. He placed a distinction between what metaphors mean and what they do. In this sense, metaphors are not a domain of meaning but of use. As such Davidson viewed metaphors to not be a semantic phenomenon. But more akin to nudging the listener or bumping them on the head. This is not a semantic effect but does cause one to think about similarities or make comparisons. However, this effect causes all these things, once the listener grasps that initial meaning is clearly wrong. The conclusion is that metaphors are neither semantic, cognitive, nor propositional. Therefore, one cannot talk about a metaphorical meaning or a metaphorical proposition, and therefore, neither can one talk about a metaphorical truth. I shall take this part as one feature of Davidson’s theory and try to examine it by showing how it works in some aspects as well as the semantic or pragmatic theories of metaphor.
Furthermore, Davidson denied theories that account for metaphors as elliptical similes where the metaphorical meaning is attempted to be found by checking for similarities. Metaphors and similes are the same with regard to causing one to search for similarities, but they differ in terms of being mostly true or mostly false. Davidson argued that metaphors are mostly false, whereas similes are mostly true. However, he appears to have missed some points related to similes also being able to be metaphorical. Meanwhile, Davidson also put forth that elliptical simile theories of metaphor are mostly useless. Moreover, Davidson appealed to object classes in order to talk about similarities. Accordingly, to be similar means to share the property of the class. Two roses are similar by virtue of their being roses. But no metaphor shows such class-depended and therefore finding similarities can be said to provide the meaning of a metaphor. Yet Davidson accepted that metaphors cause ones to make comparisons or find similarities between two things. Metaphors do these kinds of things not semantically but by causing an effect. I shall take his claims about similes and similarity as a second feature of his theory and will examine it by showing its problematic bases.
The last feature I shall try to show and examine in this study is the explanations of metaphor using visuals and “seeing-as” with reference to Wittgenstein. Davidson likened metaphors to pictures and dreams with the claim that pictures and dreams cannot be explained in terms what they exactly are. On the other hand, Davidson likened metaphors to Wittgenstein’s rabbit-duck visual. He also used the Wittgensteinian term of seeing-as to explain metaphor. Accordingly, a difference exists between see a thing and see a thing as somethşng else. Metaphors involve seeing one thing as another. Daivdson’s claims regarding visualization and seeing-as are supported by such writers as Camp and Reimer. I shall try to show the problems with these claims by also mentioning how Wittgenstein’s seeing-as and rabbit-duck visual are not suitable for Davidson’s metaphor theory.
I shall attempt to show the relationship between Davidson’s metaphor theory and his own theory of meaning, as well as the relationships with the other metaphor theories that appeared at the time of WMM. One extra thing that I present for examination is a distinction between literary and other metaphors. Literary works aim to both mean something in the best way and to use figures simply as ornaments. Based on this claim, I accept that literary metaphors can appear as a result of instrumental and purposeful causes while the other metaphors, such as metaphors of ordinary language mostly have instrumental causes. I believe that making this distinction can help eliminate some types of problems. I also consider the second type of metaphors in this study.