Definition and Understanding"

We have seen that meaphor pervades our normal conceptual system. Because so many of the concepts that are important to us are either abstract or not clearly delineated in our experience (the emotions, ideas, time, etc.), we need to get a grasp on them by means of other concepts that we understand in clearer terms (spatial orientations, objects, etc.). This need leads to metaphorical definition in our conceptual system. We have tried with examples to give some indication of just how extensive a role metaphor plays in the way we funtion, the way we conceptualize our experience, and the way we speak."

-- inspo --
Most of our evidence has come from language–from the meanings of words and phrases and from the way humand make sense of their experiences. Yet students of meaning and dictionary makers have not found it important to try to give general account of how people understand normal concepts in terms of systematic metaphors like 'love is a journey, argument is war, time is money, etc.' For example, if you look in a dictionary uner "love," you find entries that mention affection, fondness, devotion, infatuation and even sexual desire, but there is no mention of the way in which we comprehend love by means of metaphors like 'love is a journey, argument is war, time is money, etc.' If we take expressions like "look how far we've come" or "Where are we now?" there would be no way to tell from a standard dictionary or any other standard account of meaning that these expressions are normal ways of talking about the experience of love in our culture.

-- inspo --

Hints of the existence of such general metaphors may be given in the secondary or tertiary senses of other words. For instance: a hint of the "love is madness" metaphor may show up in a tertiary sense of the word "crazy" (= "immoderately fond, infatuated"), but this hint shows up as part of the definition of "crazy" rather than as part of the definition of "love."
What this suggests to us is that dictionary makers and other students of meaning have different concerns than we do. We are concerned primarily with how people understand experiences. We view language as providing data that can lead to general principals of understanding. The general principles involve whole systems of concepts rather than individual words or individual concepts. We have found that such principles are often metaphoric in nature and involve understanding one kind of experience in terms of another kind of experience.
Bearing this in mind, we can see the main difference between our enterprise and that of dictionary makers and other students of meaning. It would be very strange in a dictionary to see "madness" or "journeying" as sense of "love." They are not senses of "love", any more than "food" is one of the senses of "idea." Definitions for a concept are seen as characterizing the things that inherent in the concept itself. We, on the other hand, are concerned with how human beings get a handle on the concept—how hey understand it and function in terms of it. Madness and journeys give us handles on the concept of love, and food gives us a handle on the concept of an idea.
Such a concern for how we comprehend experience requires a very different concept of definition from the standard one. The principal issues for such an account of definition is what gets defined and what does the defining That is the issue we turn to next."

Definition and Understanding — 01