Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

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Suppose we try to state the cognitive content of an interaction metaphor in “plain language.” Up to a point, we may succeed in stating a number of relevant relations between the two subjects…But the set of literal statements so obtained will not have the same power to inform and enlighten as the original. For one thing, the implications previously left for a suitable reader to deduce for himself, with a nice feeling for their relative priorities and degrees of importance, are now presented explicitly as though having equal weight. The literal paraphrase inevitably says too much—and with the wrong emphasis. One of the points I most wish to stress is that the loss in such cases is a loss in cognitive content; the relevant weakness of the literal paraphrase is not that it may be tiresomely prolix or boringly explicit (or deficient in qualities of style); it fails to be a translation because it fails to give us the insight that the metaphor did.

Max Black, Models and Metaphors

Written by nevalalee

September 7, 2017 at 7:30 am

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