Principles underlying cognitive poetics—
the application of cognitive linguistics to literature

1. the embodied mind. The detailed nature of our bodies, our brains, and our everyday physical and cultural functioning in the world, both temporally and spatially, structures rhythmic movement, sound production and perception, human concepts, and human reason.

2. the cognitive unconscious. The term “cognitive” refers not to mental activity in the Cartesian sense but to all conscious and unconscious activity, including conceptualization, intuition, feeling, and emotion. Most brain activity is unconscious—not repressed in the Freudian sense but simply inaccessible to direct conscious introspection.

3. metaphorical thought. For the most part, human beings conceptualize abstract concepts in concrete terms, using ideas and modes of reasoning grounded in the sensory-motor system. The mechanism by which ideas are represented in terms of other ideas, including comprehending the abstract in terms of the concrete, is called conceptual metaphor.

4. radial categories. Concepts show prototype effects rather than the Aristotelian paradigm based on necessary and sufficient conditions.

5. creativity. The human mind is capable of producing new ideas through a process of conceptual integration which is dynamic, supple, and active in the moment of thinking. The mechanism by which emergent structure is created is called blending.

6. meaning. Syntax cannot be described independently of semantics.

7. form and iconicity. Basic principles of the embodied mind motivate how poetry integrates its (simultaneous) use of meter, rhythm, versification, visual form, sound, prosody, syntactic form, syntactic function, lexical meaning, rhetorical schemes, tropes, speech acts, speech genres, allusion, and also motivate non-lyrical literary modes (narrative, drama, song).

8. aesthetics. The ability of the mind to discriminate among sensuous perceptions by means of feelings and emotions.

9. distributed cognition. In addition to being *embodied*, or grounded in
sensori-motor experience, cognition is *socially embedded*. That is, it
cannot be characterised as a purely 'mental' activity nor can it be
restricted to the individual assumed to be acting alone. Rather cognitive
activity operates within individuals but also both among and between those
individuals and those *cognitive artefacts* engaged in that activity and
does so in such a way that it may be partly external (in varying degrees) to
any one individual.

10. cognitive artefacts. Cognitive artefacts are shared by individuals and
communities. They are the temporary result of a process or set of processes
and may be incorporated into further processes. They are thus,
simultaneously, products and tools of cognition. A cultural artefact
(such as a poem) is a type of cognitive artefact. It may change with time
and context and is not simply the residue of an individual's thoughts and

Ulf Cronquist has created a series of diagrams with additional notes and bibliography as part of the discussion of the coglit principles. These include: a diagram illustrating "cognitive poetics navigation" (with reference to seminal texts and major topics in coglit and cognitive stylisitcs), a diagram illustrating where cognitive poetics comes from, a diagram on stylistics, and notes (with bibliography) on the intersection of traditional stylistics and cognitive stylistics.
Click here to download these diagrams and notes as a pdf file.

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