The mind is a metaphor

Dr Brad Pasanek is a literature researcher at the University of Southern California who has created a database of metaphors of the mind used in 18th century English literature.

It allows you to search by everything from standard keywords to the politics of the author and has over 8,000 entries.

As illustrated by Douwe Draaisma’s excellent book Metaphors of Memory, our scientific understanding of the mind often uses metaphors of the latest technological developments.

It’s no accident that we now tend to understand the mind in computational terms, as an information processing system, whereas in past centuries it was thought to operate on the principles of pressures, fluids and vapours.

Pasanek also runs a blog that highlights some of the background and history to the more interesting examples.

Link to The Mind is a Metaphor database.
Link to The Mind is a Metaphor blog.

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