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Strawberry feel forever: understanding metaphor as sensorimotor dynamics


Metaphor is a useful way of explaining how to do things. The literature on metaphor in the learning of physical skill has generally explicated its efficacy by examining its actionable directives for motor enactment. And yet from the perspectives of phenomenological philosophy, ecological psychology, and enactivism, action is immanently intertwined with perception, so that models of metaphor-based learning should foreground the role of sensory activity modulating motor behavior. As such, metaphor is retheorized as a sensorial constraint one imaginarily projects into one’s action–perception phenomenological landscape. I present two metaphors from an instructional video on cello technique. Whereas these metaphors are couched in action language (what one should do), their potential impact, I argue, lies in emergent goal sensations (what one should feel). These explorative sensorimotor accommodations may, in turn, bring forth yet new scopes of latent sensations coupled to unanticipated performance possibilities, which suggest further modifying and calibrating enactment in the target domain. Attending to, achieving, and maintaining emergent intermediary goal sensations regulates instrumented action by forging new affordances that bring forth new motor coordination. As teacher and student co-imagine images for action, they should attend to sensory perceptions. And the same goes for scholars of metaphor.

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