Friedrich Max Müller’s cultural concept of metaphor

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This paper analyses Müller’s concept of metaphor, which he expounded in the eight of his second series of Lectures on the Science of Language (1863). It highlights the central role that metaphor played in Müller’s theory of mythology, as well as his critical appraisal of the latter as a form of ‘diseased language’. This critical ‘deconstruction’ of metaphors and mythology was, however, no end in itself but an application of the comparative, ‘historical’ philology that had clarified the ‘genealogical’ relationships of (Indo-European) languages and was now to be applied to cultures. Müller’s position in the history of metaphor theory is that of an outsider, but his emphasis on the role of metaphor reinterpretation in cultural history remains a challenge for philosophy and linguistics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-134
Number of pages10
JournalPublications of the English Goethe Society
Issue number2-3
Early online date19 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2016


  • etymology
  • Indo-European
  • metaphor
  • misunderstanding
  • mythology

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