Monday, 28 October 2013

Metaphor: The Kingdom of the Undead.

Douglas Hofstadter knows what an oxymoron is, “genuine artificial intelligence,” as Hofstadter now calls it, with apologies for the oxymoron. (from James Somers's article in The Atlantic)
I doubt that Hofstadter, ‘he’, apologised for it because the bringing to computation of the human power of making analogies is the limen as he understands it. I first wrote ‘crucial limen’ there, and that would be a mixed metaphor which tends to take away what it never gave in the first place.

All these figure of speech can be considered as falling under the heading of Analogy (upper case). Different spheres of meaning are brought into association. In the Oxymoron they are contrary, in the metaphor there is the moving of one sphere totally into the domain of another. Thus language is full of dead metaphors that we no longer see as such because they have displaced their abstract analogues so effectively. We grasp, comprehend, apprehend and understand but what is it to do that, what is being shunted? Maybe to do philosophy is to try to find the basis of metaphor. What is that kingdom planted by the undead?

When I offer the distinction between the Analogy and the analogy(lower case) I mean that the latter can appear under various guises; attribution, proportionality and illustration. It early struck me that the confusion of metaphor with analogy/illustration is a major element in the misinterpretation of Advaita. I have recently been reading the Essays on Indian Philosophy by Professor J. Mohanty and find traces of that heresy. It is the hazard of offering analogies that they tend to be taken in a way that was not intended. Shankaracarya regularly finds the purvapaksha (opponent) guilty of this solecism. I have been collating his observations.

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