Metaphoricity in the History of Economic Thought (on the Basis of the 17th Century Economic Discourse)

Natalya Davidko


At all times economists resorted to metaphors to explicate abstract phenomena like money, market, labor and so on. The article is devoted to the analysis of metaphoricity in the works of philosophers and pre-classical economists of the 17th century with the aim to trace the source of economic metaphors and look into the factors that have bearing on the proclivity of metaphorical mappings of the nascent intellectual discipline. Each epoch is characterized by a specific metaphorical paradigm which is a result of systematic correlations across domains and carries an impact of the general state of knowledge, relative significance of different areas of learning, national and cultural specificity. These paradigms supply basic guiding images to express new cognitive contents and shape the ways in which reality can be visualized and a new theory constructed. We proceed from the assumption that metaphoricity is the foundational feature of economic discourse and the basis for the conceptualization of economic reality and postulate that economic metaphors are dependent on and epistemologically correlated with the general metaphorical paradigm of the period in question. Adaptations and modifications of universal absolute metaphors (organic – mechanical) are carried out in full conformity with the existing metaphorical paradigm. A historical perspective adopted in this article allows us to discover the cognitive basis of economic metaphors, their pattern setting capacity and implications for modern-day economics.


:economic thought, discourse, metaphorical paradigms, conceptual metaphor, metaphorical mappings, organic metaphors, mechanical metaphors.

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