metaphor

Theory

"It is the theory that decides what we can observe." (Einstein)

"It is more important that a theory be beautiful than it be true." (Paul Dirac)

In Greek, theoria originally meant a looking at or viewing and theoreo, a spectator. In this sense, theory and Visuality are metaphors of each other.

Is the theoretical attitude is that of the disengaged observer? Does theory require a distinction between the illusionless observer and the gullible participant, or to put it more mildly, between theory and observation? Does theory always entail what John Dewey derided as the "spectator theory of knowledge"? Perhaps to theorize is to create the impression of something that existed already (or, even better, always already) (see metaphor) In the Pragmatic tradition, theory is the critical reflection on "belief." William James calls it "an appetite of the mind," what Frank Lentricchia calls "the need to generalize" and "to obliterate differences." (quoted in Cary Wolfe, Postmodern Theory and the Pragmatics of the "Outside" )

But according to the Greek conception, theory is not a knowledge but touching (thigein ).

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artifacts

According to Leroi-Gourhan: the technological object is nothing outside of the technological ensemble to which it belongs. "As one encounters a new device or system,...it is crucial to ask what the form of this thing presupposes about the people who will use it." (Langdon Winner)

Artifact/ideas: The ideas embodied in material things: the increased crystallization of knowledge and practice in the physical structure of artifacts, in addition to mental structures. Through the combination and superimposition of task-relevant structure, artifacts came to embody kinds of knowledge that would be exceedingly difficult to represent mentally. (see Bruno Latour, "Visualization and Cognition: Thinking with eyes and hands." Knowledge and Society 6: 1-40, 1986.) (see tech philosophy for "the fabrication of scientific facts and technical artifacts." )

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Gaia

GAIA: The hypothesis proposed by James Lovelock that the earth is a living organism. It is an organic world picture as opposed to the mechanized world picture of the scientific revolution. (see machine) The name Gaia means Earth Goddess and was suggested to Lovelock by William Golding, author of Lord of the Flies. Leaving aside the anthropological element, the central element of Gaia theory is that the earth is a self-regulating system in which biological life does not simply adapt to conditions which happen to sustain life but in fact ensures the stablity (homeostasis) of those conditions. It is a form of coevolution between organism and environment.

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immersion

There are a number of ways to approach the metaphors of immersion and navigation that suffuse descriptions of technology. The psychological theme of the "oceanic" is explored by Freud in Civilization and its Discontents among other places, and provides an interpretation of the sense immensity that the term conveys. 

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memory

"If something is to stay in the memory, it must be burned in: only that which never ceases to hurt stays in the memory." -Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of MoralsIs 

Is memory primarily individual? Or is it social? 

Individual memory can be thought as communication with the self over time. " I, entelechy, form of forms, am I by memory because under ever-changing forms." (Stephen Dedalus) "Memory is the real name of the relation to oneself, or the affect of self on self." (Deleuze, Foucault, p.107) 

In Rewriting the Soul, Ian Hacking asks whether memory is the name of what once was called the soul. For Hacking, the Western moral tradition, encapsulated in the Delphic injunction to "know thyself," expresses a deeply rooted conviction that a self-knowledge is central to becoming a fully developed human being. In the modern area, this self-knowledge has increasingly focussed on issues of memory. 

Individual memory can be broken into three classes:

personal memory claims concerning events in the past, which figure significantly in our self-descriptions; This is also called episodic memory
cognitive memory claims, concerning things we learned in the past; (also called semantic, or categorical memory) 
habit-memory , our capacities to reproduce performances (like riding a bicycle)-- also called procedural memory. 

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metaphor / model

According to Giambattista Vico, the ancient language, before the formation of society, must have been full of the boldest metaphor, since this is the natural character of "words taken wholly from rough Nature, and invented under some Passion, as Terror, Rage, or Want." A distant echo of Vico's theories can be heard in Steven Pinker's Darwinian accounts of language. For Pinker, metaphors of space and force are quite possibly part of our evolutionary inheritance and are so basic to language that they are hardly metaphors at all, at lease not in the literary sense.


Metaphors depend on drawing attention to the similar in the apparently dissimilar, and they trade on secondary comparisons between the two terms.

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mirror

mirror

In the tenth book of the Republic, Socrates differentiates the maker of an object, such as a bed, made in accordance with the Idea of the thing (this is its eidos or form) , from the artist, proceeding in a quick and easy fashion, as if using a mirror. But "What should a painting be called," asked Alberti, "except the holding of a mirror up to the original as in art?"

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resonance

Resonance: when waves resonate, their amplitudes pile up on top of each other, as opposed to interference, which reduces their amplitudes.

A feedback loop creates a resonance that grows without bound.

The Desana Indians of Columbia describe the sky as a brain, its two hemispheres divided by the Milky Way. Their brains, they say, are in resonance with the sky. This integrates them into the world and gives them a sense of their role in the cosmos.

The qualitative aspects of pleasure have been difficult to formulate for psychoanalysis, which uses the "hydraulic" model of tension and release. Hans Loewald suggests that "resonance" between systems of psychic organization, (love, for example) forms of "hypercathexis," might help understand the pleasure in higher organization and unpleasure in less or lower organization -- of the exitation inherent in living substance. (this is similar to Kant's philosophical pleasures -- see critique of judgement )

Ilya Prigogine and Isabelle Stengers talk about the resonance between theological discourse and theoretical and experimental activity in the success of the clock metaphor of the universe. Gilles Deleuze proposes that "philosophy, art, and science come into relations of mutual resonance and exchange, but always for internal reasons." For Deleuze and Guattari, the interaction of actual and virtual is a resonance.

For Deleuze, "the central state is constituted ..by the organization of resonance among centers." (Thousand Plateaus, p.211) "a central computing eye scanning all of the radii."

Rupert Sheldrake believes that morphogenetic events resonate with each other, that it becomes progressively easier for a particular form to occur as its occurrences accumulate. He cites the formation of crystals as an example, in which occurrences of a new cristalline form seem to occur shortly after a first one is observed, in places with no direct relation to the first occurrence. For Sheldrake the probability of the new form occurring increases rapidly with each occurrence, starting with the first.

One wonders, however, why Chinese isn't easier to learn if so many people speak it.

tech metaphor

For Proust railway travel was like a metaphor in that "it united two distant individualities of the world, took us from one name to another name" (quoted in Kern Culture of Time and Space. p.217) " Gertrude Stein speculated that the Cubists' breakup of the old way of seeing things was suggested by aerial vision, even though none of them had been up in a plane.

While Proust used technological analogies to illustrate his method of metaphor, the Futurists used technological metaphors to illustrate their method of analogy, which they called "Imagination without wires"

cinema: close up and quick cut

topos

The Greek word topos meant literally a place, and ancient rhetoric used the word to refer to commonplaces, conventional units, or methods of thought. For the Ancients, particularly for Aristotle, topoi were rubrics with a logical or rhetorical value from which the premisses of argument derive. In the Renaissance, topics became headings that could be used to organize any field of knowledge. 

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