Still Thinking about Metaphor as Smallest Unit of Meaning

Dr. Browning, our professor, was prodding the class last week about inductive vs. deductive reasoning.  Do you need to come into a project with a thesis that you prove or disprove?

Well, no.  That’s not what grounded theory is about.  You let the theory emerge.  Or what narrative theory is about.  It’s not generalizable.  It’s not something that can be replicated or proved.  And yet, it is a theory.

After class, I heard him sigh winsomely about how culture right now only wants to see things from the applied science point of view.  And it’s true, I’ve felt that, too…it’s part of why I’ve moved away from the arts, because they felt so much like they were loosing the battle.  Because we can’t seem to own our own truth.  We keep point for extrinsic reasons for it.  How cowardly and fickle of me to abandon the cause of art.

(But I haven’t really, you know.  I’ve just gotten more covert about it.  Maybe more politic, more strategic).

Anyhow, found this wonderful article searching for “Science of Metaphor,” trying to see if there was anyone working on this kind of idea and if so what field(s) they were in.  Google gave me lots of 0f “Metaphor in Science,” and “Science as Metaphor,” but this little nugget From Science magazine was worth noting:


Beauty, Charm, and Strangeness: Science as Metaphor

by John Banville

He makes some remarkable and lovely comparisons and contrasts between art and science.  While this doesn’t exactly further my message as metaphor inquiry, I really love this thought:

“We cannot remember our birth, and we shall not know our death; in between is the ramshackle circus of our days and doings. But in a poem, a picture, or a sonata, the curve is completed. This is the triumph of form. It is a deception, but one that we desire, and require.”

My curiosity is why while he argues mostly for the equality of art and science, he still chooses to call it a deception.  If something is not replicable, not provable, does that mean it can’t be true, nonetheless?

I still think there are multiple paths towards truth, and truth is primarily an experience:  and ultimately, a shared experience.

Scientists share in a different way than artists, but they are both sharing truth.  To call the artist a liar is to call the scientist inhuman.  Neither are the full story.

Metaphor is not a deception.