In the view of culture with which I have been working in this book, there is a notion that, in addition to conceptual metaphor, plays a crucial role: that of cultural model. Cultural models are important in our attempts to describe and characterize the human conceptual system and, hence, cultures. Psychologists, anthropologists, and linguists have made extensive use of the notion under a variety of different names (see, e.g., Holland and Quinn, 1987; Lakoff, 1987). Cultural models are best conceived of as any coherent organizations of human experience shared by people.
Given the notions of conceptual metaphor and cultural model, it is legitimate to ask, What is the relationship between the two? Cultural models exist for both concrete and abstract concepts, as well as for those that fall somewhere between the two extreme ends on the scale of abstraction. Clearly, the issue of the nature of the relationship between cultural model and conceptual metaphor can only arise in the case of cultural models for concepts at or close to the abstract end of the scale. Our concepts for physical objects such as chairs, balls, water, rocks, forks, dogs, and so on, do not require metaphorical understanding (at least in our everyday conceptual system and for ordinary purposes). In fact, some scholars (especially cognitive anthropologists) claim that cultural models exist without prior metaphorical understanding even for abstract concepts; that is, we have a primary literal understanding of them (e.g., Quinn, 1991). Others, however, claim that cultural models for abstract concepts are inherently metaphorical; that is, they are constituted by metaphor (e.g., Johnson, 1987; Kövecses, 1999; Lakoff and Johnson, 1980; Lakoff and Kövecses, 1987).