PHL313: Notes on Martinich on Metaphor
Notes on Martinich on Metaphor
Martinich: an intention theory of metaphor
Martinich defends what he calls a pragmatic view of metaphor meaning.
This is in contrast to a "semantic view," by which he means a view
that the meaning of the metaphor is expressed in the utterance itself.
Claim: whether a sentence is used literally or metaphorically depends on the context of use.
Martinich builds his case for this view by extending and modifying
some work of Grice.
- Saying that
- Making as if to say
Recall that for Grice I want my audience to believe that I believe
(and usually I want them to come to believe) something P which may or
may not be the same as my utterance S.
Martinich calls P the thing that I am "saying that." Since S may be
very different in meaning on the face of it than my intended meaning
P, we can also say in such cases that I "made as if to say" S.
If I say "Jones is a genius" sarcastically
I said that Jones is not very smart
I made as if to say Jones is a genius
Metaphors make as if to say one thing (their literal reading) but by implication say that something else.
This implication is "non-linguistic," which is to say it is not just a
matter of straightforward logic.
One kind of "non-linguistic" implication is conversation implication,
which has implicit rules which shape how linguistic utterances are
interpreted. (Consider the example of the weak reference letter.)
The rules of conversational implicature are:
Metaphors flout the maxim of quality. They are explicitly false.
- The maxim of quantity: say only what you need to say
- The maxim of quality: do not say what is false
- The maxim of relation: be relevant
- The maxim of manner: be clear, brief, orderly
We see that the metaphor is obviously false (and so it is not a lie),
and therefore understand that the speaker is making as if to say that
something with the utterance.
The speaker therefore must be saying that something which is implied,
something about salient shared features with the metaphor.
The maxim of relevance tells us that the features of the metaphor must
have some salient similarity.
The maxim of quality still plays a role in that the implied meaning
should be true.
Thus, I know that "My love is a red rose" is false (in a normal context).
I conclude the speaker only makes as if to say that the speaker's love
is a red rose.
I assume that whatever he really means is relevant and true. I search
for potential similarities that are relevant and true and settle on
some, such as:
Note then that this view is part of an entity theory, of the kind that
Davidson rejects. I know the rules of conversation and exploit them
to communicate something P by saying something patently false and
- My love is beautiful
- My love is attractive to others