ABSTRACT

This article attempts to reinstate the inherent rigor of “image” as a literary term by addressing the theoretical issues related to the image that W. J. T. Mitchell discusses in his encyclopedia entry and his articles on the concept. The image is usually considered an overly psychological concept that lacks the rigor of rhetorical devices such as metaphor. This article clarifies the relationship between the image and metaphor by arguing that, while an image may not be immediately considered a metaphor, a metaphor may be thought of as a composite and relational proposition-image. It underscores the futility of insisting on the concrete sensual (or visual) aspect of the image, arguing that, before any sensual attribution, the image must primarily be thought of as a reference or picture, which may at times be obscure, indefinite, or even empty. It also raises some objections to the conceptualization of the mental picture as private by arguing that the word on which the mental image is based cannot be less private or “mental.”

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