Mark T. Phelan F'08

Mark T. Phelan
Assistant Professor
Philosophy
Lawrence University

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships 2008
Doctoral Candidate
Philosophy
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Entertaining Metaphors

A philosophical bias towards fact-stating—or propositional—language has led to two kinds of accounts of metaphor. One camp maintains that metaphors are not essentially propositional, so not a proper topic for philosophical theories of language. Another tries to save metaphor by assimilating it to philosophically standard propositional language. This dissertation argues that both approaches have resulted in theories that ignore important aspects of metaphorical discourse. It emphasize that what makes metaphor special is a unique relation between its propositional and non-essentially propositional aspects. An understanding of an author's intention to entertain and a hearer's process of understanding entertaining metaphors is central to this account.