Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Open Peer Commentary
Barsalou: Perpetual symbol systems

Creativity of metaphor in perceptual symbol systems

Bipin Indurkhya a1
a1 Department of Computer, Information, and Communication Sciences, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Tokyo 184-8588, Japan


A metaphor can often create novel features in an object or a situation. This phenomenon has been particularly hard to account for using amodal symbol systems: although highlighting and downplaying can explain the shift of focus, it cannot explain how entirely new features can come about. We suggest here that the dynamism of perceptual symbol systems, particularly the notion of simulator, provides an elegant account of the creativity of metaphor. The elegance lies in the idea that the creation of new features by a metaphor proceeds in the same way as the creation of regular features in a perceptual symbol.