Document Type : Original Article


PhD Department of Arabic Language, Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University, Morocco



This article examines the cognitive mechanisms involved in the use of metaphor as a generative tool for the articulation of scientific concepts. Proceeding through a cognitive linguistic approach and drawing on the theory of conceptual metaphor as a theoretical framework, the article underscores the role of metaphor as a key component in the construction of scientific knowledge. The article consists of three main sections: the first addresses the experimental, physical, and psychological bases upon which the conceptual metaphor operates in scientific knowledge production. More specifically, the first section demonstrates how bodily experience contributes to the construction of scientific concepts through the element of metaphor. The second section, on the other hand, looks into the processes of scientific knowledge production animated by the element of metaphor at the experimental and abstract levels, concerning the mechanisms that inform this process of scientific knowledge production. The reference to cognitive mechanisms such as conceptual blending, metaphorical conceptual mapping, and metaphorical projection is followed by an explanation of the role of each of these components, respectively. The third section identifies the four elements central to the construction of concepts in general and scientific concepts in particular. These components are embodiment, perception, categorization, and understanding. Taken together, the sections of the article trace and explain the overall process through which the element of metaphor allows for the construction of scientific concepts and forms of knowledge production.


Boers, F. (1997). "When a bodily source domain becomes prominent. The joy of counting metaphors in the socio-economic domain". Metaphor in Cognitive Linguistics. pp: 47-56.
Boroditsky, L., (2000). "Metaphoric structuring: understanding time through spatial metaphors". Cognition, Vol 75. No 1. pp: 1-28. Doi: 10.1016/S0010-0277(99)00073-6
English, K., (1998). "Understanding science: when metaphors become terms" Groupe d'étude et de recherche en anglaise de spécialité. pp: 151-163. Doi: 10.4000/asp.2800
Fauconnier, G. (1997). "Mappings in thought and language". Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Fauconnier, G., & Turner, M. (1998). "Conceptual integration networks". Cognitive Science, No 22. pp: 133–187. Doi: 10.1016/S0364-0213(99)80038-X
Fauconnier, G., & Turner, M. (2002). "The way we think: Conceptual blending and the mind's hidden complexities". New York: Basic Books.
Gentner, D (1983). "Structure-mapping: A theoretical framework for analogy". Cognitive Science , Vol 7. No 2. pp: 155–170. Doi: 10.1016/S0364-0213(83)80009-3
Gibbs, R. W. (1996). "Why many concepts are metaphorical". Cognition, No 61, pp: 309–319. Doi: 10.1016/S0010-0277(96)00723-8
Johnson, M., (1987). "The Body in the Mind: The Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination, and Reason". Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Kövecses, Z., (2010). "Metaphor: a practical introduction". New York: Oxford University Press.
Lakoff, G. (1993). "The contemporary theory of metaphor. Metaphor and Thought". Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp: 202-251. Doi: 10.1017/CBO9781139173865.013
Lakoff, G. (1987). "Women, fire, and dangerous things: What categories reveal about the mind". Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Lakoff, G. (2008) "The neural theory of metaphor. The Cambridge handbook of metaphor and thought", ed. R. W. Gibbs, Jr. Cambridge University Press. pp: 17-38.
Lakoff, George & Johnson, M., (1980). "Metaphors we live by". Chicago: the university of Chicago.
Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M., (1980). "The Metaphorical Structure of the Human Conceptual System". Cognitive, Science 4. pp: 195-208. Doi: 10.1016/S0364-0213(80)80017-6
Pissolato, L., (2012). "Cognition and naming processes in terminology'. Anais do V Congresso Linguística e Cognição. pp: 89-93.