Vico, Metaphor, and the Origin of Language

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The origin of language is one of the deep mysteries of human existence. Drawing upon the work of the eighteenth-century Italian philosopher Giambattista Vico, Marcel Danesi fashions a persuasive, original account of the evolution and development of language. Seeking to reconstruct the primitive mind that generated language and the evolutionary events that must have preceded the advent of speech, he takes Vico's insight that mind, culture, and language evolved from the uniquely human faculty known as fantasia ("the imagination") and sketches a "primal scene" of compelling interest.
Danesi identifies metaphor, the feature of mind that transforms iconic, perceptual thinking into conceptual thinking, as the crucial event in the Vichian scenario. The description of this scenario forms the core of Vico, Metaphor, and the Origin of Language. Danesi then evaluates the Vichian reconstruction of the origin of language in light of contemporary research in the cognitive, social, and biological sciences and with competing theories.

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Contents

A Vichian Reconstruction
30
The Vichian
60
The Iconicity and Visual
83
Copyright

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About the author (1993)

Marcel Danesi is Professor of Semiotics and Italian Linguistics and Director of the Program in Semiotics at the University of Toronto.

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