[Humanist] 29.637 revealing analogies

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Jan 20 08:12:46 CET 2016

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 637.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Tue, 19 Jan 2016 16:49:02 +0000
        From: Arianna Ciula <ariannaciula at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re:  29.616 revealing analogies: noodles in the air
        In-Reply-To: <20160113072225.708EE7D57 at digitalhumanities.org>

Dear Willard and all,

In a hopefully forthcoming article following the paper Cristina Marras and
I presented at DH 2014 in Lausanne, we referred to some literature about
the use of metaphors (and hence analogies too) in science; while examples
in this literature does not necessarily nor explicitly refer to popular
versions or to means to addressing the non-experts (where the boundary
would be is interesting in itself...), much attention has been paid on the
use of metaphors and analogies to explain but also create knowledge. Below
is some of the literature we made use of:

Gentner, Dedre, and Michael Jeziorski. “The Shift from Metaphor to Analogy
in Western Science.” In Metaphor and Thought, edited by A. Ortony and B.
Gholson, 2nd ed., 447–80. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Here Dedre and Jeziorski differentiate with examples between the looser use
of metaphors in 'pre-scientific' endeavours to what one would describe as
the rigorous explanatory and heuristic use of analogies in modern science.

Some concrete examples are cited by Hoffman who built on others
(principally the work of Mary Hesse) in theorising the use of metaphors in
science as well as pedagogy; e.g. see:

Hoffman, Robert R. “Some Implication of Metaphor for Philosophy and
Psychology of Science.” In The Ubiquity of Metaphor Metaphor in Language
and Thought, edited by Wolf Paprotté and René Dirven, 327–80. Amsterdam:
John Benjamins Pub. Co., 1985.

Or also the chapter for 'Cognition and figurative language' by Honeck and
Hoffman available online:

A more recent overview (also building on Mary Hesse) but more theoretical
and lacking real examples is:
Sangoi, Massimo. “Features and Functions of Scientific Metaphors.” Edited
by Francesca Ervas and Massimo Sangoi. Metaphor and Argumentation, Isonomia
- Epistemologica, 5 (2014): 75–114.

This is in depth analysis and cognitive model of multiple analogies
inclusive of examples from diverse domains of knowledge:
Shelley, Cameron. Multiple Analogies in Science and Philosophy. Amsterdam;
Philadelphia: John Benjamins Pub. Co., 2003.

In terms of example this was the most useful for me to make possible
comparisons with what we might call metaphoric modelling in Digital
Wolynes, Peter G. “Landscapes, Funnels, Glasses, and Folding: From Metaphor
to Software.” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 145, no. 4
(2001): 555–63.

Recently I re-read an article on Father Busa by Marco Passarotti, where he
quotes a metaphor he used to explain his research method (no specific
original source unfortunately, but we discussed this and we might be able
to retrieve it). I realise this is not what you are looking for, Willard,
but I think it might be interesting for this list:

"From his frequent and rigorous consultation of scientific journals, Father
Busa would often remark that most research in the Humanities consisted of a
mile of algorithms based on a mere inch of foundation. He contrasted this
with the methodology he employed throughout his career. As was his habit,
he explained it with a metaphor. On a foundation a mile long, he would
raise the research by an inch along the whole mile length. He would then
proceed to raise the level by a further inch along the whole length of the
mile, and so on. All the evidence provided by each level of analysis was
taken into consideration before moving on to the next level – this one
slightly more advanced than the preceding one. According to Father Busa,
only in this way was it possible to provide a solid basis for research
conclusions." (pp.18-19)

The reference to the full article is:
Passarotti Marco, One Hundred Years Ago. In Memory of Father Roberto Busa
SJ, in Mambrini, Passarotti Sporleder eds., Proceedings of the Third
Workshop on Annotation of Corpora for Research in the Humanities (ACRH-3).
12 December 2013, Sofia, Bulgaria, Sofia, The Institute of Information and
Communication Technologies, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 2013, pp. 15-24.


Dr Arianna Ciula
Department of Humanities
University of Roehampton | London | SW15 5PH

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