Naming as metaphor

A metaphor lets us view something as something else. Thus it has creative potential: “a forest of legislation” lets us take the behaviours, meaning and ideas we normally associate with forests and apply them in a completely different context.

But if no two situations in “reality” are the same – if Heraclitus is right that everything flows, nothing stays – then merely calling a forest a forest would be something metaphorical. It would be setting up an equivalence or similarity between two things that are actually different: forests as you have seen them before, and the new forest that has just flowed to you as part of the stream of lived experience.

If this is correct, then merely naming something, calling it what we perceive it to be, is somehow in part a metaphorical or creative action. And there would also be something metaphorical about applying equipment and tools to solve apparently identical problems – in identifying situation X as a context where tool Y should be applied.


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