I’m continuing my reading and response to two textbooks on cognitive poetics. The topic in the third chapter of both books, prototype analysis, was more challenging than figure & ground because I had not encountered it explicitly before, and my response here feels less concise. At the same time, writing this response was more rewarding. I have become more aware of what I understand and, more importantly, what I don’t understand.
Prototype analysis is an alternative to the classical method of categorization that dates back to Aristotle. Classically, categories are understood as a set of properties shared by all members in the category. This is the method taught as grade school biology: an organism is part of the plant or animal kingdom if it has all the properties of plant or of animal, an organism is a mammal if it has all the properties of animal and mammal. For example, if the organism is a marsupial, then it has all the properties of animal (cells without cell walls) and mammal (fur, warm blooded, etc.) […]