What is a metaphor? Could include some examples.© BrainMass Inc. brainmass.com October 9, 2019, 6:18 pm ad1c9bdddf
What is a Metaphor?
Notes by Bjarke Viskum, University of Stirling, PhD (ip)
1) The standard dictionary definition of a metaphor describes it as 'a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object is used in place of another to suggest a likeness between them.'
The Oxford Dictionary gives the following definition and examples: "application of name or description to something to which it is not literally applicable. - A metaphor is a figure of speech that goes further than a simile, either by saying that something is something else that it could not normally be called, e.g. The moon was a ghostly tossed upon cloudy seas or by suggesting that something appears, sounds, or behaves like something else, e.g. burning ambition, blindingly obvious, the long arm of the law".
2) The basic theory of metaphors originated with Aristotle (Rhetoric III.4) and is know as the comparison theory. As the name suggests, the comparison theory asserts that every metaphor compares two things, e.g. Your eyes are deep blue seas, that is, a comparison between in this case 'your eyes', which is used in the literal sense, and 'deep blue seas' which is used metaphorically. Thus, according to this theory metaphors are basically similes with a 'like' left out. I could have written the same point as a simile: 'Your eyes are like deep blue seas'. However, whatever the literary merits of this kind theory, it is not this use of metaphors, which is philosophically interesting. The philosophically interesting use of metaphors involves more than abbreviating similes.
3) The basic difference between metaphors in philosophy and metaphors in literature is that where literary metaphors serve aesthetic functions, philosophical metaphors serve explanatory ...
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