مركبة "المجاز": من يقودها؟ وإلى أين ؟ / The Vehicle of Metaphor: Who Drives It and Whither ?



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أبو زيد, نصر; Abu Zeid, Nasr Hamid

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Research Article

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Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics

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[This article deals with the problematic of metaphor in Arab intellectual history, not from the point of view of linguistics and rhetoric but by explaining and analyzing the epistemological origins and intellectual outcome of the debate over metaphoric discourse in the history of Arab culture. The study focuses primarily on the internal debate among those who acknowledged the significance of the metaphoric principle in language. On the one hand, there were those who believed that the visible, sensory world is the world of "truth" and that language refers to it directly and not metaphorically. Language becomes metaphorical only when it signifies the spiritual, metaphysical world -- the world of the divine. On the other hand, there was another faction for whom language referred to the sensory, visible world through the use of metaphoric discourse and reserved its direct reference for the world of the metaphysical, the spiritual and the divine. Whereas the first group relied on an epistemological conception which made of the human being, reality and the world the point of departure, with the metaphysical world as an analogy of it; the second group regarded the world of ideals and spirits as the origin, with the human world as a mimetic reflection of it. Consequently, the first group affirmed the status of the human being and his intellect while the second group negated this status by placing the human within a metaphoric circle. While the first group viewed truth and allegory as linguistic and expressive concepts, the second group viewed them as ontological and epistemological. The origin of this debate dates back to the end of the first century and the beginning of the second century of the hejira, as revealed in the works of Jahm ibn Safwān (d. 128 h.), founder of the Jabrī sect which was opposed by the Mu'tazilites for both intellectual and social reasons. The study analyzes the work of the theoretical critic and linguist, Abdul Qāhir al-Jurjānī (d. 471 h.) to reveal his ambiguous position on metaphoric discourse. For Jurjānī, the concept of interpretation -- which is related to allegorization -- becomes a way of categorizing rhetorical devices, especially similes and metaphors. According to him, the sensory basis of comparison devalues a simile or metaphor; inversely, such tropes gain value when the basis of comparison is intellectual or abstract. It is through this understanding that al-Jurjānī paved the way for al-Ghazālī (d. 505 h.) who displaced the problem of metaphoric discourse from the realm of language to that of ontology. Not only did al-Ghazālī negate the human being, but he negated the entire sensory world, by containing it within the circle of shadows. By so doing, al-Ghazālī paved the way for the Unity of Being associated with the great mystic of Islam, Ibn 'Arabī (d. 638 h.).]

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