For the metaphors

by KatjaGraceMeteuphoric1 min read8th Nov 20192 comments

12

Personal Blog

I make use of a lot of analogies, for instance ‘like dancing’ and ‘the ice skating thing’ are particular phenomena I often think about, and I get value from thinking about meta-ethics as if it were romance, or saving the world as if it were a party. I wonder if providing a variety of concrete experiences that other things might be analogized to is a big source of value from doing new things.

For instance, recently I took up knitting and I think there are things about it that my other experiences don’t have. For instance, I got some knitting patterns, and they have this very brief and utilitarian jargon, and a bunch of concepts, and I got a sense of this rich world of actionable and actioned knowledge about how to do a concrete thing, with much doing of it, which is pretty unlike other things I engage in, I am sorry to say. 

I was also struck by the experience of being able to take a relatively simple substance (wool) and turn it into a useful object of the kind one buys in a store (a hat, or it seems like it will be a hat). 

These things are of course what I expect in the abstract, but it is something else to experience things.

I’m not sure how these new experiences compare to the value I have had so far from the activity of knitting, but it seems like much more than the value of a generic hat, and I only have maybe a quarter of one of those.

My current guess is that filling out my repertoire of concrete intuitions about specific kinds of occurrences or relationships between things is pretty helpful.

2 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 7:24 PM
New Comment

Not quite knitting, but close - you may like this piece by Sarah Perry explaining a spinning metaphor of Wittgenstein's:

And we extend our concept of number as in spinning a thread we twist fibre on fibre. And the strength of the thread does not reside in the fact that some one fibre runs through its whole length, but in the overlapping of many fibres.

Wittgenstein has another similar metaphor (Zettel, pg 934):

447. Disquiet in philosophy might be said to arise from looking at philosophy wrongly, seeing it wrong, namely as if it were divided into (infinite) longitudinal strips instead of into (finite) cross strips. This inversion in our conception produces the greatest difficulty. So we try as it were to grasp the unlimited strips and complain that it cannot be done piecemeal. To be sure it cannot, if by a piece one means an infinite longitudinal strip. But it may well be done, if one means a cross-strip.

--But in that case we never get to the end of our work!--Of course not, for it has no end. (We want to replace wild conjectures and explanations by quiet weighing of linguistic facts.)