Research Group
in Analytic Philosophy

Poetic Powers: A Theory of Tropes

25 May 2022  |  15:00  |  Seminari de Filosofia (UB)


Complementary to its self-expressive powers and its power to promote abstract thinking, poetry also has the power to expand the semantic possibilities of language by means of tropes or figures of speech such as metaphor and many others. I will argue that in doing so, poetry recapitulates the protolanguage stage, when form and content were inextricably linked because contextually grounded. And yet, when poets generate their tropes, they are nevertheless doing something we do as a matter of course in everyday speech. It would appear that tropes are a necessary part of natural languages, and that speaking figuratively is a necessity of cognitive economy: it is easier to apply the meanings we already know to novel situations than it is to come up with entirely new, so-called ‘literal’ meanings. If this is so, the semantics / pragmatics distinction will turn out to be an artificial construct, with limited use.