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Picture of Infinity in Language

Infinity in Language

Conceptualization of the Experience of the Sublime

Author(s): Kenneth Holmqvist, Jarosław Płuciennik

Book Description

The book Infinity in Language is a research monograph on the problem of the sublime in language. The authors use methods from cognitive semantics and poetics in order to thoroughly describe how the sublime is used in language. It is a unique attempt to account for one of the most fascinating problems of the human mind: the concept of infinity, and how the experience of infinity and enthusiasm is expressed in language.
The book includes new findings in cognitive semantics relating to rhetorical figures such as hyperbole, gradation and accumulation. Cognitive semantics has focused so far on metaphor. This book fills the gap and gives an account of other rhetorical figures. It contains also a historical review of major theories of the sublime by Pseudo-Longinos, Boileau, Burke, Kant, Schiller, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and others, i.e. it spans a period from the first century AD till twentieth century. The authors answer the question how is it possible to present the unpresentable. It is an attempt to outline and develop a model of the rhetoric of the sublime. The model consists of three elements: antimimetic evocation of the unimaginable, a mimesis of emotions and figures of the discourse of the sublime.
The books argues in favour of non-cartesian semantics which takes into account not only reason but also emotions, especially very intensive ones. However, the authors also express reservations regarding omnipresent rhetoric of the sublime. They follow those thinkers in the human history who argued against fanaticism and in favour of tolerance and empathy. The book is an original result of an interdisciplinary and international collaboration, lasting many years, between a cognitive scientist and a linguist and literary scholar.


ISBN-13: 978-1-8471-8955-4
ISBN-10: 1-84718-955-5
Date of Publication: 01/10/2008
Pages / Size: 185 / A5
Price: £29.99


Jarosław Płuciennik, PhD is a literary theorist and a cognitive semanticist working as Associate Professor at the Institute of Theory of Literature, Theater and Audio-Visual Arts at the University of Łódź, Poland.  He studied and did research in Łódź (Poland), Lund (Sweden) and Bolzano (Italy) as well as in Cambridge (UK). He has written in Polish and English over 50 publications, including several books in Polish: The Rhetoric of the Sublime in a Literary Work of Art, 2000, The Literary Identifications and Resonance. Poetics and Empathy 2002 and 2004, Figures of the Unimaginable, 2002, and Modern Individualism and Literature. About Conjectures on Creativity by Edward Young, 2006. He has co-edited two books on literary representations of the sublime. He is currently also co-editing three books on literature and tolerance. He is one of the Editors of an International Journal Zagadnienia Rodzajów Literackich/ Problems of Literary Genres. His main interests now are issues of analytical and cognitive semantics, pragmatics and pragmatism, Reformation, tolerance and liberty of conscience in the context of literature.

Kenneth Holmqvist, PhD is a cognitive scientist, now working as Associate Professor at Lund University, where he heads the Humanities Laboratory. He is author of around 100 publications in journals and books over the past 15 years. He manages several long-term research projects, such as "Reading while writing" (SRC), ”Mental imagery” (SRC), ”Reading to music and noise” (Sparbanken Finn) and ”Decision making in the supermarket” (FøSu/Vinnova). Currently, his overarching interest is in the empirical measurement of cognitive processes, in particular the visual processes.