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Metaphors of Mind

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Metaphors of Mind

An Eighteenth-Century Dictionary

An encyclopedic dictionary along the lines of Voltaire’s classic Dictionnaire Philosophique, Metaphors of Mind provides an in-depth look at the myriad ways in which Enlightenment writers used figures of speech to characterize the mind. Drawn from Brad Pasanek’s massive online archive,, this volume constitutes a veritable treasury of mental metaphorics.

Dividing the book into eleven broad metaphorical categories—Animals, Coinage, Court, Empire, Fetters, Impressions, Inhabitants, Metal, Mirror, Rooms, and Writing—Pasanek maps out constellations of metaphors. He frames his collection of literary excerpts in each section with a more descriptive and theoretical discussion of what he calls "desultory reading," a form of unsystematic perusal of writing frequently employed by Enlightenment thinkers. By surveying the printed past alongside the digital present, the book treats eighteenth-century writing as its topic while essentially exemplifying its rhetorical approach.

More than an exercise in quotation, this intellectual history offers illuminating readings of fragmentary literary works and confrontations with neoclassical and contemporary theories of metaphor. The book’s entries complicate received ideas about Locke’s blank slate, question M. H. Abrams’ claims about mirrors and lamps, and chart changing frequencies of metal metaphors in a moment of industrial revolution. The book also responds to current anxieties about reading and the mass digitization of literature, touching on recent discussions of "distant reading," "shallow reading," and "surface reading." Promoting critical and creative anachronism, Metaphors of Mind redefines the notion of an archive in the age of Amazon and Google Books.

Metaphors of Mind
An Eighteenth-Century Dictionary
Publication Date: 2015
Status: Available
Usually ships 2-3 business days after receipt of order.
Trim Size: 6" x 9"
Page Count: 392 pages
Illustrations: 6 halftones, 4 line drawings
ISBN: 9781421416885