Metaphors – wikiquote astrid y gaston lima menu english


• The symbol and the metaphor are as necessary to science as to poetry. We are as helpless today to define mass, fundamentally, as Newton was. But we do not therefore think, and neither did he, that the equations which contain mass as an unknown are mere rules of thumb.

• All metaphors, at least such of them that are best chosen, are applied to the senses, especially the seeing, which of all senses is the most exquisite. Thus when we say, the tincture of politeness, the softness of good-breeding, the murmer of waters, and sweetness of language; these metaphors are all taken from the other senses. But the metaphors taken from the sense of seeing are much more striking, because they place in the eye of the imagination objects… otherwise… impossible for us to see or comprehend. For there is nothing in nature but what we may adapt its name to signify something else; and every object from which a likeness may be raised, as it may from all objects, if metaphorically applied…

• For the [Kogi and Ika] Indians of the Sierra, everything begins and ends with the loom, and the metaphor of thread in the cosmic cloth. Constantly on the move as they gather food and various resources, the Indians refer to their wanderings as "weavings", each journey a thread woven into a sacred cloak over the Great Mother, each seasonal movement a prayer for the well-being of the people and the entire Earth. When the people of the Sierra plant a field, the women sow lines of crops parallel to the sides of the plot. The men work their way across the field in a horizontal direction. The result, should the domains of man and woman be superimposed one upon the other, is a fabric. The garden is a piece of cloth.

• In the interpretation of figurative passages, let the following canon be observed. If the passage be preceptive, either forbidding some flagitious deed and some heinous crime, or commanding something useful and beneficent: then such passage is not figurative. But, if the passage seems, either to command some flagitious deed and some heinous crime, or to forbid something useful and beneficent: then such passage is figurative. Thus, for example, Christ says: Unless ye shall eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood; ye shall have no life in you. Now, in these words, he seems to command a heinous crime or a flagitious deed. Therefore the passage is a figure, enjoining us to communicate in the passion of our Lord, and admonishing us to lay it up sweetly and usefully in our memory because, for us, his flesh was crucified and wounded. On the other hand, Scripture says: If thy enemy shall hunger, give him food; if he shall thirst, give him drink. Here, without all doubt, an act of beneficence is enjoined.

• The progress of science requires more than new data; it needs novel frameworks and contexts. And where do these fundamentally new views of the world arise? They are not simply discovered by pure observation; they require new modes of thought. And where can we find them, if old modes do not even include the right metaphors? The nature of true genius must lie in the elusive capacity to construct these new modes from apparent darkness. The basic chanciness and unpredictability of science must also reside in the inherent difficulty of such a task.

• We often think, naïvely, that missing data are the primary impediments to intellectual progress — just find the right facts and all problems will dissipate. But barriers are often deeper and more abstract in thought. We must have access to the right metaphor, not only to the requisite information. Revolutionary thinkers are not, primarily, gatherers of facts, but weavers of new intellectual structures.

• The facts of nature are what they are, but we can only view them through the spectacles of our mind. Our mind works largely by metaphor and comparison, not always (or often) by relentless logic. When we are caught in conceptual traps, the best exit is often a change in metaphor — not because the new guideline will be truer to nature (for neither the old nor the new metaphor lies “out there” in the woods), but because we need a shift to more fruitful perspectives, and metaphor is often the best agent of conceptual transition.

• To reassert the reign of beauty, Copernicus goes back to what he had once called "the first principles of uniform motion." He rejects non-uniformities and inconsistancies of motion – his "mind shudders" at the very consideration of them – and even at the cost of setting the earth in motion, he arrives at a system that has all the earmarks of divine handicraft; the equants are gone, the phenomena are saved; the whole system has symmetry, parsimony, necessity. …

The device of uniform motion in a circle was not forced by the data; and as Kepler’s ellipses showed later, it was not even the most functional device from the mathematical point of view. Yet the metaphor of uniform circular motion as the divine key… – even as in antiquity – had infected the thinking from which the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century came. …the function of a metaphor …"can be a restructuring of the world," in the words of Sir Ernst Gombrich.

• In the work of the active scientist there are not merely occasions for using metaphor, but necessities for doing so, as when trying to remove an unbearable gap or monstrous fault. I now turn… to… the necessity built into the process of scientific rationality itself, an epistemological necessity… It is simply the limitation of induction. Where logic fails, analogic continues. The bridge is now made no longer of steel but of gossamer. It breaks often, but sometimes it carries us across the gulf… there is nothing else that will.

• All reflection, thought and criticism began in comparison, analogy and metaphor. Faust was wrong: in the beginning was not the act. St. John was right: in the beginning was the word. We are concerned with man, and the world can only exist for man as man knows or imagines it. Metaphor is the route of reason, science and art.

• What then is truth? A movable host of metaphors, metonymies, and anthropomorphisms: in short, a sum of human relations which have been poetically and rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seem to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding. Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions — they are metaphors that have become worn out and have been drained of sensuous force, coins which have lost their embossing and are now considered as metal and no longer as coins.

• In order to understand, in the case of miracles, what actually took place, we ought to be familiar with Jewish phrases and metaphors; anyone who did not make sufficient allowance for these, would be continually seeing miracles in Scripture where nothing of the kind is intended by the writer; he would thus miss the knowledge not only of what actually happened, but also of the mind of the writers of the sacred text.

• [The mechanical philosophy is] a case of being victimized by metaphor. I choose Descartes and Newton as excellent examples of metaphysicians of mechanism malgré eux, that is to say, as unconscious victims of the metaphor of the great machine. Together they have founded a church, more powerful than that founded by Peter and Paul, whose dogmas are now so entrenched that anyone who tries to reallocate the facts is guilty of more than heresy…