Academic journal article Cross - Cultural Communication

A Comparative Study of the Metaphorical Thinking in Eastern and Western Educational Writings: Based on a Comparison of Record on the Subject of Education and Great Didactic of Comenius

Academic journal article Cross - Cultural Communication

A Comparative Study of the Metaphorical Thinking in Eastern and Western Educational Writings: Based on a Comparison of Record on the Subject of Education and Great Didactic of Comenius

Article excerpt

Abstract

Metaphor is a rhetorical device as well as a way of thinking. Record on the Subject of Education and Great Didactic of Comenius extensively used metaphors. The similarity of the two classics in rhetorical methods does not mean the consistency of Western and Eastern metaphorical way of thinking in a deeper level. To explore the differences in the way of Western and Eastern metaphorical thinking, the study selects part of the content of Record on the Subject of Education and Great Didactic of Comenius to conduct a comparative analysis of the text.

Key Words: Metaphor; Difference in way of thinking; Record on the subject of education; Great didactic of comenius

INTRODUCTION

Metaphor is the most common phenomenon used in languages. Linguistic study regards it as a rhetorical method. Metaphors can be more intuitive to vividly describe specific or alleged things. The most representative studies are that of German cognitive linguists Ungerer.F and Schmid.HJ. A new direction for contemporary metaphor research is to extend metaphor from linguistics to the cognitive domain, and metaphor is regarded as a unique and the most fundamental cognitive way of humans. American cognitive linguist George Lakoff and Mark Johnson believe that metaphor reflects a deeper level cognitive mechanism. Metaphor is widely present in the human language system and the conceptual system and it is an important way to communicate and to understand as well as the foundation of our language and behavior. Metaphor is deeply rooted in the cultural environment and it is also the foundation of our history and culture. Metaphors we use are not just metaphors, and they can represent a particular language community or cultural behavior or patterns (Su, 2005).

Record on the Subject of Education is China's first educational monograph as well as the world's first educational monograph. Great Didactic of Comenius was written by a Czech educator Comenius in 17th century. It is regarded as the foundation of Western education. Record on the Subject of Education and Great Didactic of Comenius each played a groundbreaking role in the development of educational thought in the East and West. The Two books were generated though with different historical conditions and cultural background, and yet reflect the same purpose: the contents are related to the educational purpose, teaching principles and the role of teachers and so on; on the rhetorical ways, they both heavily used metaphors. However, whether these similarities represent a deeper problem, namely, the Western way of thinking is consistent with that of the East? If not, their differences are reflected in which aspects?

1. THE ORIENTATION OF THE TWO WAYS OF METAPHORICAL THINKING IS DIFFERENT

1.1 The Metaphysic Feature of Metaphors in Record on the Subject of Education

That "the jade uncut will not form a vessel for use; and if men do not learn, they do not know the way (in which they should go)" is the first metaphor in Record on the Subject of Education. From a rhetorical point of view, it belongs to a materialized metaphor, with this tangible thing and event of that "jade cut will form a vessel for use" which people are familiar with to metaphorize the invisible and relatively abstract truth of that "men don't know the way if they don't learn". The use of metaphor makes the expression more vivid and more specific. However, from the point of view of its expounding the truth, that "men don't know the way if they don't learn" focuses on reasoning rather than practice. Specifically, it does not further elaborate on how to "learn", and there is no detailed explanation to know what "way". What is the "way"? "One yin and one yang is called the way" (The Book of Changes * Xici Book 7). How can we know the "way"? We can only get it through the "investigation of things and extension of knowledge" in the process to slowly feel and ponder the perception. Such is not the unique case of, Record on the Subject of Education. …

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