7 Pages

• Carl R.Hausman, Metaphor and Art: Interactionism and Reference in the Verbal and Nonverbal Arts (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 238 pp., £25.00 (hardback)


The idea that inventive metaphors can both create new meaning and discover unforeseen nuances in the world is deemed by Hausman to be a paradox. To create is to bring an object into existence whereas to discover is to introduce an object to the awareness of a community; there is nothing too bewildering in this analysis. The full perplexity of the situation for Hausman lies in the fact that, with creation, the object is not in the world before the event, whereas, with discovery, the object is in the world, though unattended, before the event. His proposed solution to the paradox is a synthesis of the work of Max Black and C.S.Peirce. His sympathy with Black’s interactionist theory of metaphor prompts him to submit the notion of a metaphorical referent: the idea that what is signified by a metaphor is something singular and determinate. The two conditions which define a referent are inspired by Peirce: uniqueness acknowledges that something new and individual is created by metaphor; and extraconceptuality acknowledges that something relevant to the world is discovered by metaphor. The introduction of a referent to solve the creativity paradox is an ingenious task for which Hausman deserves credit. However, his eagerness to deny any kinship which might exist between the metaphorical referent and Kant’s thing-in-itself, I claim, invites unnecessary complications. Furthermore, I assert that the creativity paradox, rather than being an ‘in the world’ consideration, in actual fact frames the possibility of determinate metaphorical meaning.