Monday, August 18, 2008

What is the Great Chain of Being Metaphor System?

The “Great Chain of Being” is a concept that was developed by ancient philosophers including Plato and Aristotle to help organize things in the universe by attributes and behaviors arranged in a hierarchy.
A version of the “Great Chain of Being” employed in semantics is as follows (Kieltyka and Kleparski n.d.):
The “Great Chain of Being” metaphor system maps of the attributes and/or behavior between different categories of the chain in order to better understand one domain in terms of another. Lakoff and Turner (1989: 172) more clearly define the metaphor system as, “a tool of great power and scope,” that “allows us to comprehend general human character traits in terms of well-understood non-human attributes; and conversely, it allows us to comprehend less well-understood aspects of the nature of animals and objects in terms of better-understood human characteristics.”

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