In the Rhetoric, Aristotle identifies “bringing-before-the-eyes” as a capacity that is crucial to metaphors because it allows rhetors to actualize actions immediately before audiences, leading those audiences to insight. Because this description suggests that metaphors activate cognitive mechanisms on the part of their listeners, “bringing-before-the-eyes” has been considered a key element within Aristotle's theory and the nexus of that approach to metaphor and contemporary conceptual ones. Yet, no study has probed these claims to any degree. Accordingly, this paper examines Aristotle's references to “bringing-before-the-eyes” as well as to two associated concerns, energeia/actualization and sense perception. This examination demonstrates that “bringing-before-the-eyes” is not explicitly cognitive but instead a perceptive capacity. In this, Aristotle's theory anticipates recent approaches to language because it allows the audience to participate in the persuasive process at a level that extends its role beyond the traditional Aristotelian understanding that it is the target of emotional appeals.
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