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The Metaphysics of Metaphor

Why Likeness Matters

As Gregory Bateson said, if you want to understand a hand you can't think of it as composed of five fingers, you must think instead of twenty five relationships.

Enlightenment thinkers noted that the world was complex and sought to reduce the complexity by abstracting what they saw to the greatest extent possible. The were searching for the fundamental laws of the universe - the ones that explained and lay behind the complexity of the world as they found it. This is a noble aspiration and one which has been phenomenally successful.

There is, however, a problem with science - that people mistook scientific discoveries for reality. Of course, every scientist knows that the descriptions of the world that they explore and operate with are just models. Every good scientist knows the history of their discipline, the way in which investigations give way through time to ever better models. But deep down those same scientists, along with the rest of us, think the world really is the way they describe it rather than an view of the world that you get by looking through one particular filter.

The world, of course, is like science claims it is. The key, though is in the word 'like'. The world is also like many things that science either cannot claim or even denies. This blog is about how an understanding of metaphor transforms our understanding of the relationship between science, religion, culture and personal experience. It's a metaphysics of metaphor. A metaphysics with real and practical implications.