Organizing Dialogue, Experience and Knowledge for Complex Problem-Solving


March 20th, 2005

Dang. Have I had metonymy all wrong? Hall describes is a linguistic term in which a part is substituted for the whole inadequately because, as a one-sided or single moment it can never provide or capture a process (or object or event or . . . ) holistically, in all its dimensions, moments, and aspects.
I’ve been considering it alternatively as a representation or symbol in which the whole enacts itself within the part.

. . . it is not attempting to classify something by placing it as a species within a genus.
Worth a serious follow-up while I’m there this summer: The Metaphor and Metonymy Group.
Wikipedia has multiple links and at least part of explanation that seems more in keeping with where my head’s been: “… is the use of a single characteristic to identify a more complex entity.” And there’s this, which is contexted as a rhetorical use: “Metonymy works by contiguity rather than similarity. Typically, when someone uses metonymy, they don’t wish to transfer qualities (as you do with metaphor); rather they transfer associations which may not be integral to the meaning.” I have to think on this more, because I like the continguity but need to be clear on the difference between “associations” and “qualities.” And how associations might not be “integral to meaning.”
Ah – this looks even closer: “In cognitive linguistics, metonymy is one of the basic characteristics of cognition. It is extremely common for people to take one well-understood or easy-to-perceive aspect of something and use that aspect to stand either for the thing as a whole or for some other aspect or part of it.” The Wiki site (link above) includes links to cognitive linguistics and cognition. Do follow up! (There are several more leads there – gesture, sign language, perhaps links to consciousness…)
ps. Don’t forget Hall’s contrast of metonymy with fetishism (37). First time THAT’s made sense (too?)! ­čśë ”

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