The art of scientific metaphors

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Metaphor has no place in science, some claim; no, others argue, metaphor is crucial to science. Science is a rational enterprise with its own distinctive logical structure; no, it isn’t essentially different from literature, equally a kind of world-making. There is a distinctive metaphorical kind of meaning; no, metaphorical utterances have only their literal meanings, in which they are just plain false. Conspicuous by its absence is the reasonable middle ground Haack will be mapping here. Metaphor is useful, but not essential, to scientific work; metaphors don’t have a special kind of meaning, but they do have a special pragmatic role; scientific work and the writing of fiction do have important things in common, but there are also significant differences between the two enterprises. Once we understand how science works (§1), and then how metaphors work (§2), we can articulate the similarities, and differences, between scientific metaphors and literary ones (§3).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2049-2066
Number of pages18
JournalRevista Portuguesa de Filosofia
Volume75
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

Keywords

  • Imagination
  • Imaginative literature
  • Inquiry
  • Metaphor
  • Science
  • Writing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy

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