What do metaphors mean? Why do we use them so much? Do they have a special kind of truth? These are among the many questions that David Cooper discusses in his wide-ranging study of a subject of growing importance for philosophers and students of language and literature. The author argues that the notion of metaphorical meaning, semantic or pragmatic, is a misguided one and that metaphorical truth is of only limited use in the appraisal of metaphors. Rather the main function of metaphorical talk is a social one: the cultivation of intimacy among speakers. Irony, dead metaphor, icons and the idea that language is fundamentally metaphorical are among the topics discussed in an account which ranges from Aristotle to the present day, from the analytic philosophy of Davidson to the work of continental writers such as Derrida, Barthes, and Gadamer.
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