The Aesthetics and Heuristics of Analogy
Model and Metaphor in Chemical Communication*
Heinz L. Kretzenbacher**
Abstract: This paper suggests a sufficiently consistent, if
preliminary, sketch of the semiotic structure and the aesthetic and heuristic
functions of metaphor in science, particularly in chemistry. A propositional
concept of metaphor, as underlying previous theories, is disputed. Metaphor
is instead semiotically explained as a form of semiosis by way of semasiotropy
– a concept developed out of Leopold Kretzenbacher’s research in iconotropy.
The function of scientific metaphor as an aesthetic agent of creative inference
is discussed in terms of Harald Weinrich’s image field theory (Bildfeldtheorie).
In science, the increase in complexity through the heuristic process is
subsequently reduced by strict selection of accepted research.
Keywords: metaphor, aesthetics, semiotics,
1. Introduction: Captatio benevolentiae, or: ‘Where are you coming
In order to avoid such misunderstandings as written communication is prone
to, disadvantaged as it is compared to oral face-to-face communication,
it is customary to state the general purpose of an academic publication
and some basic assumptions from which it starts in an introduction. I shall
also undertake to state where it is situated professionally and epistemically.
This paper seeks to provide a consistent, if somewhat impressionistic
(since still evolving), sketch of the semiotic structure and the interdependent
aesthetic and heuristic functions of metaphorical communication in science,
particularly in chemistry. It does not lay claim to making any general
statements about human cognition or philosophy of science, let alone about
the nature of metaphor, beyond clearly defined limits of linguistic research.
As to whether it is more appropriate to use or to avoid metaphorical
language while discussing metaphor, I remain agnostic. It seems as forced
as futile to try and talk about metaphor without using it.
That should, however, not easily scare a linguist who admits to a moderately
constructivist attitude, while still keeping in mind that this very epistemic
viewpoint itself is subliminally metaphorical (cf. Spivey 1997).
But then, so is aesthetics (cf. Zangwill 1991). It appears that
some things can hardly be communicated other than in analogical form, or,
if you will, in semiotic form. Linguistics is, after all, just another
branch of human semiotics, and analogy is just one of the more frequently
used forms of semiosis, the symbolic use of something for something else
– aliquid, quod stat pro aliquo is an ancient minimal definition
of the sign.
Talking about metaphor, one is tempted to cast a glance back to the
first instance of theorizing it that we know of, to Aristotle. As it happens,
the same philosopher also triggered three basic as well as interdependent
assumptions about the human condition that I will have to take for granted
for the purposes of the following text.
As a linguist, I must not be frightened of natural language or condescending
towards it. Natural language has proven to be the most adequate medium
for human communication and conceptualization – that is: interpreting the
incessant and chaotic torrent of sensory impressions that we are subjected
to; ordering it into consistent and intersubjectively negotiable categories;
and calling this subjective, if intersubjectively transmissible, interpretation
‘the real world’. There may be linguists who assume that language is secondary
to human thought and reason, even building a whole theory of metaphor on
that per se a-linguistic (since a-semiotic) foundation.
As a mere linguist, I can neither assume that the material I am dealing
with is anything but linguistically structured (i.e. language, as
we encounter it in utterances), nor that linguistics is a discipline to
explain the world. I certainly cannot claim to make any statements about
truth. Logicians, priests, and possibly even philosophers might deal with
truth. As a linguist I deal with language.
Humans are sociable beings, zoa politika (Aristotle, Polit.
I.2). From a linguistic viewpoint, this implies that by being humans we
normally cannot help seeking communication with other humans.
Humans have language as a means of making sense to themselves and to other
humans. Instead of Aristotle’s own phrasing of the human as a zoon logon
ekhon, which has always been tricky to translate from the original
Greek, I would prefer a description of humans as zoa
dialogizoumena (cf. Kretzenbacher 1994a, p. 158).
Humans use language not only as a foremost means of, but also as a model
for other strategies of making sense to themselves and to other humans
through systems of signs. In a Peircean tradition, one could call humans
semeiotika (or ‘semiotic animals’, cf. Merrell s. d.)
Given my professional and epistemic background, I cannot avoid approaching
chemistry from a viewpoint Peter Janich and like-minded philosophers of
chemistry would call "culturalist" (cf. Janich 1992, pp. 167-168;
Hartmann & Janich 1996, pp. 31-36; Psarros 1996a, pp. 121-122). If
that makes me liable to be called a dogmatic neo-anti-realist (cf.
Norris 1995), I suppose I have to grudgingly suffer it.
Given also the fact that I agree with greater minds than my own, such
as Plato’s Socrates (see the Phaidros dialog mentioned in Note 1)
and Harald Weinrich (1993, pp. 17-18) on the communicative dyad being the
natural habitat for human language, and finally given the fact that the
ideal form for academic discourse is the argumentative dialogue (cf.
Paek 1993, pp. 11-18; Kretzenbacher 1998a, pp. 136-137), I am trying to
emulate a sufficiently critical dialogue at least by phrasing the section
headings as questions.
2. Metaphor and Model in Sciences, or: ‘Haven’t we been there and done
A discussion about the identity/equivalence or otherwise of models and
metaphors in the scientific episteme has indeed been going on for the last
fifty years or so. The concepts in question, to be precise, were not just
those two, but implicitly or explicitly completed by the third (if not
of analogy. Since the discussion was first given a boost by Max Black’s
(1962) and Mary Brenda Hesse’s (1963) contributions in the early 1960s,
it has never quite died down. Amongst the applications in the philosophy
of chemistry, the contributions of Nikos Psarros (1993), and more recently
those in the special issues of Hyle 5.2 (1999), 6.1 and 6.2 (both
2000) have kept the discussion very much alive.
My own contribution to this continuing discussion amongst philosophers
of science about the epistemic status of metaphors as compared to models
in science might not amount to much. I should just like to state that I
agree with a lot of what Daniela Bailer-Jones (cf. 2000, 2001) recently
said about the epistemic status of scientific models
and the relationship between models and metaphors in science. Just for
the purposes of this paper, let me unscramble a small number of the hypotheses
that have been discussed in that context, in order to add them to the basic
assumptions we need for what follows:
We will deal with scientific metaphors (or more precisely, metaphors applied
in scientific contexts) in the following. Whether whatever we can state
about such metaphors also applies to scientific models remains open to
Not all metaphors are scientific models.
Some, but not all scientific models are metaphors (Bailer-Jones 2000, p.
Scientific models are ways of linking theories to empirical observations
by "embodying the application of theories to a specific class of objects
or phenomena" (Bailer-Jones 2000, p. 183; cf. Bailer-Jones 2001,
Scientific models are capable of representing empirical entities and thus
of making valid statements about the empirical reality (Bailer-Jones 2001,
p. 5). The particular way in which models fulfil such a representative
function can only be described and analyzed using a concept of representation
that goes beyond a strictly propositional concept. (Bailer-Jones 2001,
pp. 9-10.). That does not, however, automatically mean that this also applies
to scientific metaphors.
Some, but not all scientific models employ analogy (Bailer-Jones 2000,
pp. 188-190). This is not just a different phrasing of assumption 2.2,
since until further consideration we cannot just subscribe to the Aristotelian
suggestion that all metaphors are basically analogies by ‘resemblance’.
Already in this short list of statements about scientific metaphors
and their relation to scientific models and analogy, which I shall take
for granted for the remainder of this paper, two different sorts of statements
can be distinguished, representing two different approaches. Some of the
statements, such as 2.1 and 2.2, are about what metaphors or models are
or are not. Such statements represent an approach that I refer to
as structural. A structural approach is interested in questions
such as ‘What is it?’, ‘What does it consist of?’, ‘Which of its elements
are typical/necessary/basic for it to be a part of the category of what
it is, and which ones are individual/additional in this particular individual
representative of the category it belongs to?’ Other statements, such as
2.3 and 2.4, are about what metaphors and models are potentially capable
of doing. Such statements represent a functional approach, exemplified
by questions such as ‘What can it do?’, ‘What is it good for?’, and ‘How
can I use it?’
In the history of linguistics, structural and functional approaches
have too often been seen in a simplistic way as antagonistic rather than
complementary ways to guide and channel curiosity about language. For our
purposes suffice it to say that, while the distinction between a structural
and a functional approach is an artificial one and neither of the two approaches
hardly ever exists in a ‘pure’ form, the distinction between the two approaches
can be useful as an epistemological tool.
3. Mind your p’s and q’s, or: ‘Are we talking about equals signs or about
There are plenty of colorful etymological theories concerning the origin
of the charmingly Victorian expression ‘Mind your p’s and q’s!’ The one
I wish to activate here has its roots in Scholastic logic where p
stands for propositio and q for quaestio.
Starting from a purposeful distinction between structural and functional
approaches to the semiotic analysis of scientific metaphor, the distinction
between a ‘p-explanation’ (as in ‘Metaphors are propositions’, focussing
on state or identity) and a ‘q-explanation’ (‘Metaphors are doing this-and-that’,
or ‘Metaphors trigger/work by these-and-those processes’, focussing on
function or procedure) is not trivial.
Chemists deal with symbols that abbreviate (or, in a semiotic sense,
stand for/signify) logical operations, as do mathematicians and linguists,
amongst others. It is a semiotic axiom that signs can only be attributed
signifying value within a given system. In isolation, a red light does
not signify anything particular. Within the ternary system of the traffic
light (red/amber/green), its signifying value is the instruction to stop.
Over the door of a doctor’s surgery (at least in Australia), it signifies
that the doctor is in and thus has apparently a different signifying
value than a red light over the door of a house of ill repute. The didactics
of mathematics (cf. Behr et al. 1980, pp. 15-16) tells us
that even within the mathematical system, it is difficult to teach children
the difference between signs that signify a proposition, such as the equality
between a and b in ‘a=b’, and signs that signify
operations or instructions to perform operations, such as the subtraction
operator – in ‘a–b’ or the equation operator = in ‘3+2=x’,
which refer to a question purpose.
The semiotic (and, according to our assumption 1.3, therefore epistemic)
value of the equals sign differs between the different systems of mathematics,
everyday language, physics, and chemistry (cf. Schoenfeld 1989,
pp. 102-103; Psarros 1996b; Lechleiter 2002, pp. 83-89). Mathematical mapping
implies the system of mathematical set theory; its symbols, such as + or
, have defined signifying values, as, for instance, in the following statement
of a mathematical fixed point theorem:
Let f be a function which maps a set S into itself;
S. A fixed point of the mapping is an element x belonging to
S such that f(x)=x. If the system equation
for which a solution is sought is g(x)=0, then if the function
g can be represented as f(x)-x, a fixed point
of f is a solution to g(x)=0.
We can assume that the symbol = here is a ‘p symbol’, stating identity
of mathematical values on both sides, while the symbol ®
is an operator or ‘q symbol’, instructing us to perform a mapping operation.
By taking symbols of mathematical mapping out of the system they originally
belong to and using them for, say, explaining how metaphors work and what
they are, one performs a step of analogical transfer across systems boundaries.
Not every listener or reader of such a metaphor theory might wish to imitate
or even accept the transfer without further questioning. It does not help
if one insists on formulating a ‘q explanation’ in a natural language ‘p
sentence’, such as ‘love is a journey’, and then to blame the reader for
mixing up propositions with mappings (cf. Lakoff 1993, pp. 206-207).
I do not think that is fair. I would rather like to
approach metaphor from a semiotic basis, first from a structural and then
from a functional angle, hoping to reach an integrated view in a third
step. Semiotically speaking, if I had to choose a typographic symbol to
use for metaphor theory, the attention provoking instruction of the quotation
mark (cf. Günther 1992) would spring sooner to my mind than
the equals sign with its strong propositional fragrance.
4. Metaphor as semasiotropy, or: ‘On the shoulders of which giants are
you standing now?’
In a recent conference paper, I have outlined an adaptation of the semiotic
model that linguistic structuralism was based upon:
Ferdinand de Saussure’s binary model of the sign has been constantly
reworked by different linguistic schools according to their particular
needs and to the ongoing evolution of linguistic theory. The design of
another integrative model of the sign therefore appears legitimate.
Such a model should comprise three dimensions or aspects of the sign:
Still, in the overwhelming majority of the reworkings and developments
of the basic Saussurean model, the binary nature of the (linguistic) sign
has not been shattered. According to this binary model, the sign consists
of the inseparable, if (within the framework of social convention and mostly,
but not always) arbitrary, pairing of an abstract concept, the signifié
(the ‘signified’), on the one hand, and the concrete, sensually perceptible
form in which this signifié is made manifest, the signifiant
(‘signifier’), on the other. Both signifiant and signifié
have sufficiently fuzzy edges as well as sufficiently determined core qualities.
Thus the pitch and speed of a sequence of sounds, or the handwritten or
typographic sequence of letters in a signifiant such as
tree / TREE / tree/ tree / TREE
does not challenge the function of the signifiant to transport the
concept of a certain category of plants within the system of English. It
does so, however, in the series
tree / true
where a minimal difference in pronunciation or spelling serves as a sufficient
feature to differentiate between two separate signs within the same system.
The signifié that is linked to the signifiant ‘tree’
is, in turn, sufficiently fuzzy to accommodate such different sub-concepts
as palm, gum, and fir trees, respectively, yet sufficiently determined
to exclude daisies, even potential gigantic, tree-high ones, say, within
a fairytale or a genetic engineer’s nightmare.
a systemic aspect, taking into account the inseparable binary unit of signifiant
and signifié on the one hand and the determination of the
value of the sign for the process of reference within a given paradigmatic
network and a syntagmatic contextual fabric on the other hand,
an interactional aspect, taking into account the agreement of sender and
receiver about the rules of their concrete ‘Sprachspiel’ (‘linguistic
game’ in Wittgenstein’s sense) on the anthropological basis of the communicative
dyad (cf. Weinrich 1993: 17-18), and
a cognitive aspect.
Our very human condition as taken for granted under 1.3 (humans as zoa
semeiotika) provides us with a very low tolerance for phenomena that
we do not immediately recognize as signifiants of a sign known to
us. We compulsively try to attribute signifiés to such phenomena.
From Rorschach’s inkblots to Proust’s madeleine, a large number
of examples are at hand. The apparently arbitrary and purely conventional
link between signifiant and signifié is not only handy
for cheap jokes and puns (of the type: ‘A man walks into a bar. – Of course
that hurts! He should have looked out where he was going!’ or ‘Have you
heard the one about the dyslexic walking into a bra?’). The point here
is that the expected signifié/signifiant pairing as
suggested by the familiar contextual pattern of such jokes is unexpectedly
broken up and you have to apply a particular re-combination to ‘get’ the
joke. Sometimes this is referred to with a spatial metaphor as ‘lateral
thinking’ or ‘thinking outside the square’. Riddles also work that way,
as in the one that the sphinx gave Oedipus to solve. The riddle (what is
it that walks on four legs in the morning, on two at noon, and on three
in the evening?) can only be solved by a double dose of such semiotic recombination.
You have to sever the signifiants ‘morning’, ‘noon’, and ‘evening’
from signifiés restricted to the times of day and to recombine
them with signifiés from the conceptual field of the ages
of human individuals. In the same way, you have to recombine the signifiant
‘leg’ with a signifié that is usually paired with signifiants
such as ‘walking stick’, ‘cane’, ‘hiking stave’, ‘crutch’, etc.
Of course, ‘evening’ for ‘old age’ is one of the original examples Aristotle
gave for metaphors. In the form of social wordplay and metaphor, as in
all other forms, this mechanism of semiosis is also a convenient and promising
way for a sign community to increase their seme-pool.
The combination of our own human condition and the double-edged nature
of the sign allows us to recombine signs of originally unrelated signifiants
4.1 ‘And at what stage were you planning to eventually talk about chemistry?’
Now would be as good a time as any. Chemists are great recombiners of originally
unrelated modules of normally otherwise combined molecules. (‘Now what
is going to happen if I split this O2 molecule and add two hydrogen
atoms to each of the oxygen atoms? Let’s see…’). Tua res agitur.
Back from chemical to general semiotics: In a certain field of cultural
studies, the recombination of formerly unrelated signifiants and
has been thoroughly described, if not in terms of semiotics. Iconography
and iconology have long been aware that artworks such as pictures exist
as a linkage between a material entity (a signifiant such as paint
on a canvas) and a conceptual entity (a signifié such as
‘portrait of individual X’ or ‘protest against social phenomenon Y’, or
‘venerable symbol of supernatural entity Z’). Different beholders or groups
of beholders do not necessarily combine one and the same signifiant
with identical signifiés. An Australian Aboriginal dot painting
can mean (i.e., imply the signifié of) a representation
of sacred and otherwise inexpressible (or even secret) spiritual knowledge
to a certain sign community, such as the initiated members of a particular
Aboriginal people. To a group of Non-Aboriginal gallery visitors, it can
mean a spiritually uplifting expression of beauty (or, since that is in
the eye of the beholder, a meaningless piece of aesthetic junk). To a community
of art collectors, it might mean a prized or coveted possession or a clever
investment, and so on.
Certainly, a sign community can re-interpret a given visual signifiant
by replacing a signifié seen as obsolete with a new one.
The cultural anthropologist Leopold Kretzenbacher has published a large
number of thorough and detailed studies on European religious iconography
where he found such (religious and secular) re-interpretations of religious
depictions whose original signifié was lost, forgotten, or
even ignored on purpose. In his publications since 1970, Leopold Kretzenbacher
has consistently described such phenomena as iconotropy.
The term, derived from the Greek elements eikon, ‘image’, and tropein,
‘to turn (around), to change’, and developed in an argumentative co-operation
chain from mythology research via psychoanalysis to cultural anthropology,
seems appropriate enough. To my knowledge, no one has come up with a better
term up to now.
Structurally identical processes of semiosis can be encountered far
beyond the boundaries of visual art. The very phenomenon of synesthetics
is a good example, insofar as sensory concepts are re-combined with signifiants
from other sensory fields, as is the case with people who claim they ‘taste’
sounds or ‘hear’ colors. The re-combination of a sensory impression with
a linguistic expression even had its defined place in classical rhetoric
under the term of ekphrasis (‘ut pictura poesis’). The semiotic
mechanism we are talking about actually allows and even encourages precisely
such crossing of borders between different media of perception. The mechanism
works in both directions, which is in accordance with the binary model
of the sign that does not have a ‘preferred’ direction of relating the
and the signifié to each other.
One good example, known to many historians and sociologists of science,
is the wanderings back and forth across the border between the visual and
the linguistic medium of the signifiant, representing the cultural
concept ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’ as described in Robert K.
Merton’s probably most popular publication, the ‘Shandean postscript’ On
the shoulders of giants (first published as Merton 1965). From a semiotic
viewpoint, iconotropy is just a specific application of a more fundamental
type of semiosis for which I would like to suggest the term ‘semasiotropy’.
Another specific application of semasiotropy, though much more frequent
and fundamental than iconotropy, is metaphor. This structural-semiotic
approach to metaphor is consistent with the categorization of metaphor
as a subcategory of the tropes in ancient rhetoric (along with such other
tropes as metonymy, irony, oxymoron, etc.).
And the general rhetorical strategy of the trope is conventionally described
by the etymological metaphor of changing/turning/moving (Gr., tropein)
the expression (the signifiant) away from its ‘proper’ place in
‘literal’ language, while leaving the concept (the signifié)
Beyond this superficial consistency, and keeping in mind that etymology
is rarely a good guide for linguistic analysis (‘lucus a non lucendo’),
this view of metaphor is consistent with Max Black’s ‘interaction theory’
of metaphor. This theory no longer tries to explain metaphor as a way of
substitution or analogy between a ‘literal’ and a ‘figurative’ meaning,
but rather as the interaction of two dynamic systems of meaning, thus actually
creating new analogies rather than exploiting pre-existent ones (cf.
Kretzenbacher 1997, p. 131). Black’s interaction theory is arguably the
most momentous new view of metaphor since Aristotle. Its appeal is that
it allows us to think outside the millennia-old square of a perceived binary
antagonism between the ‘literal’ and the ‘figural’ that had burdened discourse
about metaphor since Aristotle’s time.
So this is my suggestion for a structural description of metaphor from
a semiotic viewpoint: Metaphor is a specific subclass of semiosis by semasiotropy.
5. Metaphor as multimedial channeling, or: ‘What about aesthetics: Are
we there yet?’
Yes, we are. We have arrived at the functional or ‘q problem’: What is
metaphor good for? According to a conventional code
of professional behavior, it appears appropriate for scientists to compartmentalize
their life in a way that their allegedly impartial and objective professional
is kept strictly apart from their naturally (com-)passionate and subjective
private persona. Provoked by the very phenomenon of scientific metaphor,
the physicist Alan Lightman (1989, p. 100) voiced his amazement by the
almost schizophrenic separation of scientists’ private and professional
attitudes towards reality:
Physicists have a most ambivalent relationship with metaphor. We desperately
want an intuitive sense of our subject, but we have also been trained not
to trust too much in our intuition. We like the sturdy feel of the earth
under our feet, but we have been informed by our instruments that the planet
is flying through space at a hundred thousand miles per hour. We find comfort
in visualizing an electron as a tiny ball, but we have also been shocked
to discover that a single electron can spread out in ripples, like a water
wave, occupying several places at once. We crave the certainty of our equations,
but we must give names to the symbols.
Likewise, chemists of course have to suspend their professional attitude,
towards substance purity, in everyday life, or they would have to seriously
mistrust the label in their shirt that says ‘100% cotton’ even if that
shirt has buttons that are definitely not cotton, not to mention the crass
impurities that a chemical analysis of the fabric would show. Generally
speaking, in science it appears to be only allowed to admit an interference
between the two spheres in anecdotal contexts (cf. Mistichelli 1998).
The extent to which an individual scientist is expected to adhere to this
implicit code of professional manners appears to be inversely related to
her or his professional standing and distinction. As a rule of thumb, almost
any admittance to your own human condition in professional discourse is
accepted once you are a Nobel Prize laureate (‘Quod licet Jovi [Roald
Hoffmann, Erwin Chargaff, James Watson…] non licet bovi [first year
undergraduate chemistry students]’).
Not that there is really anything wrong with that: Communities function
by rules, and arriving at the generally more favored end of the food chain
has its benefits. As far as aesthetics is concerned, the interesting fact
is that manners are a result of behavioral choice and therefore matters
of style. From a linguistic viewpoint, what interests me most is linguistic
style. And in that respect, scientists, in what Mistichelli (1994, p. 257)
calls an originally noble "intent to purge scientific thought of non-measurable
and non-quantifiable influences", are generally expected to strive for
an emotionally extremely restrained and unobtrusive style. The stylistic
ideal is transparency; the concept behind it is that the linguistic medium
allows the recipient to perceive an allegedly underlying message (e.g.
empirical data) as clearly and distinctly as possible without distorting
it beyond the least irreducible amount of personal, subjective style.
Three stylistic elements are particularly seen as threatening to cloud
this "window pane style" with the mists of subjectivity:
Harald Weinrich (1989, pp. 132-139) has phrased these unwritten rules in
three negative commandments or prohibitions (‘Verbote’ in German)
which I render here in my own translation from the German original:
First commandment: A scientist does not say ‘I’.
The personal involvement of the researcher as a human communicator, most
clearly perceptible in the use of the first person singular pronoun I,
the linguistic mode of storytelling as opposed to reporting facts: narrative,
and the use of analogy as a means of scientific argumentation, particularly
frowned upon in the form of metaphor.
Second commandment: A scientist does not tell stories.
Third commandment: A scientist does not use metaphors.
Kretzenbacher took up this trinity of academic conventions of stylistic
restraint, though suggesting to replace Weinrich’s term ‘Verbot’
with the Freud-inspired term ‘taboo’:
Taking into account what Sigmund Freud wrote about the difference
between prohibition and taboo, I should propose to speak of three stylistic
instead: the narrative taboo, the ego taboo, and the metaphor taboo. Prohibitions
are relative restrictions that can be refuted by rational argumentation.
Taboos are absolute restrictions that can be broken knowingly or unknowingly,
but not called into question.
Indeed scientists do not readily bow to bans or prohibitions. From Galilei
to Sacharov and Havemann, many of them have not reacted in an overly accommodating
or even obedient way to prohibitions. After all, in the world of scientific
research, there is no such thing as an authority that would grant immunity
to scientific questioning. To my knowledge, no scientist has ever seriously
accused Einstein of regicide for beheading Newton’s physics. A large number
of laws of nature formulated in the early time of the Royal Society have
long been falsified or fundamentally changed in further scientific discourse,
and consequently pushed from their thrones and ushered to the back benches
of the history of sciences. The stylistic conventions for discussing those
laws however, which were developed by the same founding generation of ‘Natural
Philosophy’ in the form of experimental science, have never had to undergo
a thorough checkup. Laws, even if seemingly signed
by Queen Nature herself, appear to be perceived by scientists as preliminary
results of scientific research at a given point in the history of science.
Therefore, it is the duty of scientists to regularly scrutinize these laws
to find out if they still apply. This is similar to laws in a human society
that lose their applicability when the society no longer takes them for
granted, such as when, for instance, death penalty is considered in opposition
to this society’s idea of civilization.
Taboos work in a different way within communities, and they come in
a different semiotic form. In societies that accept the values of the Enlightenment
tradition, taboos are subjected to scrutiny in similar, though not exactly
the same, ways as laws. Societies that reject the assumption that individual
freedom of choice is generally a solid basis of collective welfare tend
to consider taboos as just that: unquestionable. I certainly do not wish
to portray the professional community of scientists as anything but appreciative
of the personal freedom aspect of Enlightenment. It might just be the case
that scientists in their incarnations as professional personae lack
the sensory apparatus that allows them to perceive professional taboos
as a form of historical rules in a similar way as ‘laws of nature’. After
all, humans have a restricted sensory apparatus.
As for the metaphor taboo, mockingly carved at the bottom edge of Moses'
tablets as another commandment by Max Black (1962, p. 25) in the form "Thou
shalt not commit metaphor", there are very few scientists of Puritan-strict
observance. Fortunately, there is an unbridgeable difference between a
gas chromatograph displaying an output of data and a chemist interpreting
such data and communicating them to other human beings. Of course, chemists
are not any less human in their incarnation as professional personae.
They make human choices, focus on this or that aspect of analytical data,
interpret data, and hypothesize with an amount of human creativity that
may be contained by professional standards of behavior, but will arguably
never be emulated by a machine. The same double-thinking that allows all
of us to apply different standards in our private and in our professional
lives leads to a conscious or subconscious agreement amongst scientists
to comply with the metaphor taboo only to the extent the French are said
to comply with their strict anti-smoking legislation. Certainly, scientists
would not like to be perceived as communicators of metaphors by the general
public. The word ‘linguist’ in English can refer to an academic qualified
in linguistic theory as well as to someone who has acquired some skills
in languages other than their native tongue; linguists (the real, upper-case
initial ones) have learned to live with that. Physicists seemingly wish
to be perceived as clearly something different from para-physicists, and
chemists as clearly different from alchemists. Since alchemy is characterized
by a highly metaphorical, even allegorical discourse style, chemists appear
to shrink from the public use of metaphor even more than physicists do.
For the sake of a sober and respectable professional image in the wider
community, scientists perform the mental trick of not only splitting themselves
up into a professional and a private persona, but also to split
up their linguistic activities into a ‘message’ (their professional ‘concepts’)
and a ‘medium’ (their linguistic ‘style’). Neatly fitted into the old and
popular topos of "style as the clothes of thought" (cf. Müller
1981, p. 52), even a highly creative and human scientist such as Albert
Einstein feels compelled to quote Ludwig Boltzmann’s quip about ‘elegance’
as something that, in the interest of a clear presentation of thoughts,
should be left to cobblers and tailors. The quote is printed in the preface
to that particular publication on his theory of relativity addressed to
all interested members of the general public who have completed secondary
level education (Einstein 1917). I quote the short paratext completely:
Das vorliegende Büchlein soll solchen eine möglichst exakte
Einsicht in die Relativitätstheorie vermitteln, die sich vom allgemein
wissenschaftlichen, philosophischen Standpunkt für die Theorie interessieren,
ohne den mathematischen Apparat der theoretischen Physik zu beherrschen.
Die Lektüre setzt etwa Maturitätsbildung und – trotz der Kürze
des Büchleins – ziemlich viel Geduld und Willenskraft beim Leser voraus.
Der Verfasser hat sich die größte Mühe gegeben, die Hauptgedanken
möglichst deutlich und einfach vorzubringen, im ganzen in solcher
Reihenfolge und in solchem Zusammenhange, wie sie tatsächlich entstanden
sind. Im Interesse der Deutlichkeit erschien es mir unvermeidlich, mich
oft zu wiederholen, ohne auf die Eleganz der Darstellung die geringste
Rücksicht zu nehmen; ich hielt mich gewissenhaft an die Vorschrift
des genialen Theoretikers L. BOLTZMANN, man solle die Eleganz Sache der
Schneider und Schuster sein lassen. Schwierigkeiten, die in der Sache begründet
liegen, glaube ich dem Leser nicht vorenthalten zu haben. Dagegen habe
ich die empirischen physikalischen Unterlagen der Theorie absichtlich stiefmütterlich
behandelt, damit es dem der Physik ferner stehenden Leser nicht ergehe
wie dem Wanderer, der vor lauter Bäumen keinen Wald sieht. Möge
das Büchlein manchem einige frohe Stunden der Anregung bringen!
Dezember 1916 A. EINSTEIN
So that is for the glossy brochure and could be paraphrased as: "In science,
we condescendingly reduce aesthetic choice in linguistic communication,
style, to ‘elegance’ and refrain from its use, because science is the disinterested
pursuit of knowledge, as opposed to anything we know from the outside world.
Out there people are human, concepts are as messy as natural language logic
is fuzzy, and semasiotropy is rife, as you all know." Most colleagues from
other faculties have never quite bought that; particularly the part where
language is considered to be a mere means of transporting scientific thought
that can be chosen almost at random and is independent of thought itself.
Ernst Cassirer’s considerations (Cassirer 1942) provide an early example,
though by no means the earliest one. Linguists who actually take the glossy
brochure at face value are few and far between.
Whether admittedly or without wasting a thought to it, scientists themselves
know that they are very passionate in their calling (cf. Thagard
2002). Certainly, creativity is a basic condition for science to no less
extent than for other highly demanding intellectual pursuits.
Research in scientific creativity is a hot spot in philosophy, cognitive
sciences, and AI research. Some articles even promise
"serendipity equations" (Figueiredo & Campos 2001). If we see metaphor
as a sub-category of the semiosis mechanism of semasiotropy, we can hardly
be amazed by the fact that metaphor is a prime suspect in the search for
an agent that can help us think creatively. It is
also relatively little disputed that metaphors somehow fulfil the function
of triggering or guiding cognitive inference (cf. Steinhart 2001,
pp. 183-208). The hypothesis of conceptual blending has been developed
as an additional function of metaphor out of the mapping theory of metaphor.
This hypothesis states that two or more metaphorical mappings can be combined
(blended) to a sort of overlapping super-mapping. Tim Rohrer exemplifies
that quite well with the discussion about ‘Cyberspace’ as a spatial metaphor
within which sub-metaphors such as the ‘information highway’ fit neatly.
Since time metaphors are often linked to ‘source domains’ with a spatial
meaning, a different metaphor such as ‘Cyberfuture’ can be created in which
"the information highway is a road through time rather than through space"
(Rohrer 1997, p. 187). Both metaphors can be ‘blended’ to create a wider
scope of the ‘information highway’ metaphor. The ‘conceptual blending’
hypothesis has been eagerly applied as an answer to the question how metaphor
functions as a trigger for conceptual inference.
I agree with Joseph Grünfeld’s view of metaphor as a specifically
way of triggering cognitive inference (Grünfeld 2000, 173-216). I
wish, however, to suggest a manner in which this cognitive inference by
way of the aesthetic function of metaphor works. It is much simpler than
most hypotheses presented in the texts that are mentioned in this section
so far; yet, I am still optimistic that it is not simplistic. It is related
to the fact that scientists are much more akin to everybody else than their
public image would suggest. Scientists love tinkering as much as the every
human. It is difficult to publicly admit, however, that what they do in
their backyard shed over the weekend is not that different from what they
do in their labs and at their desks. In that respect, the example given
for a chemical parallel to semasiotropy in Section 4.1 is not trivial.
Neither is the fact that I have heard chemists referring to their laboratory
work in shoptalk jargon as ‘cooking’. Cooking (though not necessarily if
done for a living) is a highly creative activity. Apart from the basic
ingredients, it involves creative experimenting with the things immediately
at hand in the kitchen: a pinch of this and a teaspoon full of that and,
oh, there is that rest of that wine from dinner – what if I added that?
Metaphors combine the thinker and the tinker in the scientist, because
they particularly allow to link sensory and therefore aesthetic perceptions
to seemingly purely theoretical reasoning, which is allegedly completely
detached from sensory and emotional influences. And exactly this combination
– logic and tinkering – has been suggested as an auspicious cognitive recipe
for scientific discovery (cf. Kantorovich 1993).
Tinkering, by the way, is an excellent translation for the French bricoler
which Claude Lévi-Strauss (1962, p. 27) advocates as a means for
researchers of culture. It has also been variously described as a particularly
linguistic strategy of cognition, not only by Heinrich von Kleist almost
200 years ago (cf. Kleist 1990), but also more recently in linguistics
proper (cf. Hopper 1987, pp. 144-145). Chemists tinker – guided
by theory – with substances in their laboratories and – guided by theory
as well – with thoughts in their heads. Of course, substances (as matter)
have an aesthetic quality accessible to human senses that thoughts lack
– or do they? Much of what chemists have to deal with in their practical
work is hardly accessible to human senses in a direct way. I have not seen
an electron lately, neither have I seen much sunshine lately while I have
been working on this paper. Both phenomena are accessible to my eyes, although
the electron only so in the form that a machine extending my senses presents
it to them. Language as a machine extending my cognitive abilities does
not work in an entirely different way. But can abstract concepts in linguistic
form become accessible to a sensory as well as a purely theoretical perception?
All signs are abstract. Or rather, since they represent ideas rather
than concrete phenomena, the antagonism between abstract and concrete is
suspended in signs. Both aisthesis and noesis (‘sensation’
and ‘thought’, respectively, in the terms of Aristotelian epistemology)
are different yet equivalent forms of semiosis. This is where the particularly
metaphorical form of semasiotropy comes in. With its help, we can playfully
– by way of creative tinkering – suspend the epistemological
difference between knowledge and feeling, thought and sensation. Thus semasiotropy
is capable of opening up and occupying ‘image fields’ – ‘Bildfelder’
in Harald Weinrich’s theory (cf. Weinrich 1976, pp. 276-290) – that
transgress, or rather ignore, distinctions between the concrete and the
abstract, the sensual and the intellectual, the ‘real’ and the ‘unreal’.
We now have a theory of the structure and of the function of metaphor:
Metaphor, being a form of semasiotropy, is capable of connecting noetic
and aesthetic spheres of human perception. This is a function that lends
itself easily to the world of chemistry, understood as the theory and practice
of the research into matter.
6. Integration of structural and functional views of metaphor, or: ‘But
how does it do that?’
Metaphor is a very effective (if by no means the only linguistic) way of
creating an image field that bridges the gap between sensual and intellectual
spheres. An abstract concept such as a name can be put into an image field
that includes aural, visual, or olfactory impressions in Juliet’s fashion:
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
(Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, II, 1)
or in Faust’s metaphor:
Name ist Schall und Rauch, / Umnebelnd Himmelsglut.
(‘Names are but noise and smoke / obscuring heavenly light.’)
(Goethe, Faust I, ‘Marthens Garten’)
Of course, both Juliet and Faust have their respective agendas for blurring
the distinction between a theoretical concept and a sensation. Scientific
metaphors such as the chemical concept of aromaticity, historically developed
out of a sensory metaphor (cf. Neus 2002, pp. 4-6) have different
agendas altogether. Certainly, ‘aromaticity’ has
never been used in chemical theory to create a category of matter that
smells nice. So is its use as a chemical term not a contradiction in just
Yes, it is. Harald Weinrich (1976, pp. 306-310) alerts us to the fact
that the phenomenon called ‘contradiction in terms’ (‘contradictio in
adiecto’) in logic, signifying a contradiction between the subject
and the predicate of a proposition, is closely connected to the way metaphors
work. Oxymora, paradoxa, and other tropes are even more obvious contradictions
in terms. Weinrich (1976, p. 306) convincingly explains the contradiction
in terms as a particular case of metaphor.
Contradictions in terms provoke any receiver who wants to make sense
of them. By processing a contradictory utterance such as ‘Achilles is a
lion’ or ‘a dyslexic walks into a bra’, one’s first semiotic browsing check
comes up with an error message: there seem to be two signs whose signifiants
are linked by grammatical means while their signifiés are
mutually exclusive! This does not make sense! This is not only an insult
to our intelligence, but rather a provocation of our human condition as
semiotic sense-makers. We can either dismiss the whole utterance or switch
on our sense generator which allows us to emulate a possible semasiotropy
such as the sender of the message might have made in its encoding. Thus
we decode the contradiction by laterally thinking around it.
Also metaphors provoke our semiotic tolerance, though on a sliding scale
of intensity. There are metaphors that are so weak (‘I really look up to
you’, ‘The sun is setting’) that they are automatically processed in our
fuzzy semiosis without stretching the semiotic inconsistency tolerance.
If for any (e.g. comical or pedantic) reason we wish to exploit
even this minimal provocation, we can do so by emphasizing it (‘But how
can you look up to me when I am sitting here and you are standing there?’
– ‘Well, as a matter of fact, what is actually setting is planet Earth
rather than the sun.’). Other metaphors really challenge our tolerance
with a very strong provocation, annoying us into making a leap out of conventional
semiosis. In the rhetorical tradition, such metaphors are referred to as
"daring" or "audacious" (cf. Weinrich 1976, pp. 295-316). Since
the pursuit of knowledge is also often a daredevil enterprise (‘sapere
aude!’), semasiotropy by metaphor provides us with an appropriate mechanism
for the provocation of thoughts by (e.g. aesthetic) stimulation
of creative inference across the boundaries of well-mannered reasoning.
We just do not care about our p’s and q’s any more.
If we set such a thought-provoking mechanism in motion within a group
of people mutually provoking each other’s semiotic tolerance, it is called
a brainstorming session (cf. Liebert 1997). If we do it all by ourselves,
we have to emulate at least a communicative dyad by setting the ‘rational’
me up against the ‘emotional’ or ‘aesthetic’ or ‘silly’ me. In any case,
the effect is that our conventional trust in the seeming transparency of
language is disturbed by the provocative opacity of metaphor. Suddenly,
there is counter-evidence against things that, until now, have appeared
self-evident – language has a word to say in things that we used to think
go without saying. This surprising passive resistance of the ‘medium’ language
is what makes academic semasiotropy and artistic
semasiotropy twins separated at birth. They do, however, recognize each
other immediately if they meet.
The famous creative process that led to August von Kekulé’s suggestion
of the structure of benzene (1865), including his the equally famous reminiscing
about it (in 1890), presents an opportunity to do a detailed linguistic
study of chemical metaphor (cf. Kretzenbacher 1996 and 1998b). From
his studies on the ‘daring’ metaphor, Harald Weinrich has drawn an anti-conventional
and seemingly paradoxical, but nonetheless stringent, conclusion: the audacity
of a metaphor (or in our terms, its provocative potential) is inversely
related to the mental distance between the two concepts or images that
the metaphor brings together (Weinrich 1976, pp. 303-310).
Chemical metaphor use supports the conclusion as shown by an analysis
of Kekulé’s texts (Kretzenbacher 1996 and 1998b): It is not the
spectacular ‘Schlangen’ metaphor that Kekulé himself named
as the trigger for his idea of benzene bearing a circular structure. There
is in fact no evidence that Kekulé’s contemporary audience even
decoded this German metaphor in the sense of a zoomorphic snake, in spite
of the English translation of the metaphor strongly suggesting that. The
contemporary comments on Kekulé’s autobiographical anecdote show
nothing of that sort of understanding, indicating instead an understanding
in terms of dancing anthropomorphic atoms and molecules joining each other
in changing combinations to chains and circles of dancers. Besides that,
I have argued (Kretzenbacher 1996, pp. 188-189; 1988b, pp. 280-284) that
it is the metaphorical representation of atoms and molecules linked to
(open and potentially also closed) chains in Kekulé’s writings
in 1865 which led to his representation of the benzene structure as a ring.
The representation of a group of atoms or molecules as linked to chains
or even rings, which seems quite self-evident today (an image agreeing
with modern conventions of the graphic representation of molecules), was
certainly original and creative in 1865. Compared to the ‘snake’ metaphor,
the distance that has to be crossed to imagine a molecule as a chain or
a ring is not great. The provocative potential for mental tinkering that
this metaphor offered Kekulé, however, must have been as enormous
for him as his theory has proven to be momentous for the subsequent development
of organic chemistry. Thus, we can in fact call the seemingly modest ‘chain’
metaphor a daring conceptual challenge at the time.
7. The analogue and the digital, or: ‘Who can bring such scientific flights
of fantasy on the wings of metaphor back to earth?’
According to our assumption 1.2 (humans as zoa dialogizoumena),
no individual is a cognitive island. We constantly have to check the validity
of what our semioses result in by bouncing them off fellow humans. Communicating
our constructions of ‘reality’ to others, we take the step from a merely
subjective to a potentially intersubjective validity: we negotiate meaning
in communication. Different sorts of discourses apply differently strict
criteria before granting the seal of intersubjective approval. In art,
those criteria are rather lenient, at least in open societies. In academic
communication, they are extremely strict. Academic reasoning can only reach
the professional mainstream by passing the gates of publication in accepted
media. Those gates are guarded by peers who are willing and capable of
scrutinizing a particular contribution to the discourse of their discipline
thoroughly (cf. Daniel 1993). Gatekeepers of that sort, however,
are just representatives of the general academic duty of critical appraisal
of all relevant communication in the discipline. This is the way by which
theories are collectively developed further or, as soon as their value
for the discipline seems to be exhausted, dismissed (cf. Paek 1993,
Corradi Fiumara (1995, pp. 64-83) has suggested the terminological dyad
of digital and analogic forms of academic communication. In conjunction
with this, we can now re-assess and rework my former (Kretzenbacher 1994a,
pp. 175-178) independently developed, if less well defined, terminological
dyad consisting of the same terms. Corradi Fiumara considers the discreteness
and rigidity of the digital style approach as perfect for categorizing
purposes but less suitable for creative thinking. On the other hand, the
analogic approach, because of its continuity, its decided perspectivity,
and oscillating flexibility, provides a complementary rather than a contradictory
instrument for cognition and evaluation processes both in the general and
specifically academic contexts.
By subjecting them to digital rephrasing within the discrete categories
of the discipline, analogic constructions of knowledge can be examined
for validity, which allows weeding out intersubjectively invalid hypotheses
and claims. Controlling (and protecting) metaphors, representing the ‘green
valleys of silliness’ from the elevated perspective of the ‘barren heights
of cleverness’ towering over them, is as much part
of the entire process that we call science as leading the creative mind
to pasture in the green valleys below. Metaphoric semasiotropy by its nature
vastly increases complexity. In its thought- (or fantasy-) provoking way,
it opens up possibilities, virtualities, and non-propositional modes of
thought (cf. Miller 2000, p. 147). The pruning shears of falsification
reduce complexity by giving digitally selected hypotheses and claims room
to grow once they have gained intersubjective approval.
In the understanding of the dynamics of knowledge, the hand of epistemic
change fits all too snugly in the gardening glove of a biologistic theory
of ‘meme evolution’. A purely metaphorical explanation of metaphor is not
good enough in science. In the nick of time, Maasen and Weingart (2000,
pp. 143-150) alert us to the fact that analogic meta-discourse must not
be immune from controlling assessment by digital reconstruction. Metaphoric
semasiotropy suggests different ways of thinking, but those have to be
tested by digital recoding in order to find out how valid their results
8. Conclusion, or: ‘Can I please draw my own?’
Everyone has to. There is hardly a way around it, short of blissful ignorance.
Let me just tie the loose ends of the few poetic threads together
that are interwoven with the basic expository fabric of this text.
As we know, Aristotle was the teacher of Alexander the Great. Amongst
other achievements, Alexander is famous for slashing the Gordian knot with
his sword. In an epigram ‘On posthumous fame’, first published in 1948
in a Germany thoroughly destroyed by nationalistic and militaristic hubris
alongside with the rest of Europe, Erich Kästner (1998, p. 275) was
musing about the fame of the slasher as opposed to the anonymity of the
artist who had so skillfully tied the Gordian knot:
Über den Nachruhm
oder Der gordische Knoten
Den unlösbaren Knoten zu zersäbeln,
gehörte zu dem Pensum Alexanders.
Und wie hieß jener, der den Knoten knüpfte?
Den kennt kein Mensch.
(Doch sicher war es jemand anders.)
Digital reasoning tends to apply the sharp wit of Ockham’s Razor to the
seemingly chaotic entanglement of epistemic riddles in science. Recently,
there has been some reconsideration of the epistemological value of the
Razor in chemistry (cf. Hoffmann, Minkin & Carpenter 1997).
Even Dr. Faustus, the scientist well-versed in chemistry in Goethe’s
eponymous tragedy, in spite of having rejected his own father’s alchemical
heritage, still has to suffer the alchemical spells of the old witch in
order to get the rejuvenating concoction from her that will improve his
chances with Gretchen. With caustic sarcasm this witch enjoys seeing Faust
at his rational scientific wit’s end and at the mercy of her magic potions.
Triumphantly she argues that it is exactly her own blissful ignorance of
scientific method, her lack of thought, which provides her so generously
with powers that science is incapable of achieving:
DIE HEXE (fährt fort).
Die hohe Kraft
Der ganzen Welt verborgen!
Und wer nicht denkt,
Dem wird sie geschenkt,
Er hat sie ohne Sorgen.
(Goethe, Faust I "Hexenküche")
It is certainly not coincidental that August von Kekulé quoted the
last three lines in his famous anecdotal narrative of 1890 about how he
had envisaged the solution to the riddle of the benzene structure in a
trance-like state of drowsiness. Why did the then
famous man of science quote an alchemist-witch from Goethe’s drama in the
context of one of the most spectacular achievements of chemical science
in the 19th century? What happened to the neat distinction between
the two cultures of the Arts and the Sciences in modern Western culture?
I do not know what happened to it. I do not even believe that there
are in fact two, or three, or more cultures. There is just this one human
culture, and that is probably more about tying knots and playing with language
than slashing through beautifully and skillfully crafted real or imaginary
knots with deadly weapons of individual destruction such as swords or razors.
What was it Alexander Pope, in his Essay on Man, addressed explicitly
to the proud representatives of the Newtonian paradigm in his contemporary
science? Oh yes, it was the merciless ‘gnothi s’authon’ that keeps
gnawing away at intellectual pride:
Know then thyself, presume not God to scan;
The proper study of Mankind is Man.
[*] Mit antipodischer Verspätung, aber nicht
minder herzlich meinem Vater Leopold Kretzenbacher zum 90. Geburtstag am
13. 11. 2002 sowie meinem Doktorvater Harald Weinrich zum 75. Geburtstag
am 24. 9. 2002 zugeeignet: "Was du ererbt von deinen Vätern hast,
/ Erwirb es, um es zu besitzen. / Was man nicht nützt, ist eine schwere
Last; / Nur was der Augenblick erschafft, das kann er nützen." (Goethe,
I). Vgl. in unserem Zusammenhang dazu neuerdings auch das Kapitel ‘Chemisches
in Goethes Dichtungen’ in Schwedt 1998.
 Cf. Plato: Phaidros, 274b6
- 275b4; 275c5 - 275e6.
 Indeed the meta-metaphorical discourse has
always been deeply metaphorical, from Aristotle to the modern concept of
metaphorical ‘mapping’ which itself is a transferral (meta-phora)
from a mathematical concept (see Lakoff 1993, pp. 206-207; Fauconnier 1997,
 The Greek noun ‘logos’ can refer to
all sorts of things, such as words, concepts, language, reason, etc.
(cf. Böhme 1988, p. 36), a translation quandary that famously
drove Dr. Faustus into a severe academic midlife crisis in Goethe’s drama.
In the 20th century, Aristotle’s respective phrase has also
been so thoroughly Heideggered that we should hang it out to air for a
few more decades.
 Cf. the section entitled ‘Metaphors
are not mere words’ in Lakoff 1993, p. 208ff., where one finds statements
such as "The metaphor is not just a matter of language, but of thought
and reason. The language is secondary" (p. 208), or "This view of metaphor
is thoroughly at odds with the view that metaphors are just linguistic
expressions. If metaphors were merely linguistic expressions, we would
expect different linguistic expressions to be different metaphors" (p.
209). As a linguist, I am alerted not only by the hidden presuppositions
in the text (such as the implicit suggestion that language consist of words
as primary elements, or the gradient adverbs such as "just" or "merely"),
but also by the attempt to sell the subjective conclusion in the conditional
construction ("If metaphors were […], we would expect […]" as a conclusion
already agreed upon by the author and the reader (suggested by the inclusive
"we" in "we would expect". Sometimes not only one’s terms (cf. Batstone
2000) but even one’s conditionals appear to be capable of defying one’s
arguments. We really have to mind our p’s and q’s, particularly in ‘if
p, then q’ statements.
 Particularly comforting is her statement
"that there is no watertight definition of what counts as a model"
(Bailer-Jones 2000, p. 182, her own emphasis).
 Cf. Nimis 1988, p. 215. This question
is inseparably linked to the Aristotelian suggestion that metaphors are
epistemically closely related to similes, possibly even a subcategory of
them (popularized, above all, by Quintilian), which has been very much
disputed in philosophy (Tirrell 1991) as well as in cognitive science (Gentner
al. 2001; McGlone 2001, pp. 29-51). Of course, the problem applies
to scientific metaphors as well as to metaphors in general (Gentner 1982).
 The symbol p for proposition has
survived in contemporary logic reasoning, while q is often used
to signify something that follows from p, as in ‘if p, then
 I took this from http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/econ104.htm
(9 Jan. 2003).
 Apart from other criticisms that have been
directed towards Lakoff’s and Johnson’s successfully marketed re-invention
of the wheel (Jäkel 1999), which, however, does not really seem to
turn quite as smoothly as the original (cf., among others, Baldauf
1996; Glucksberg & McGlone 1999; McGlone 2001; Jäkel 2002). Gibbs
(1998) gives a re-assessment of the place of Lakoff et al. within
cognitive sciences research in metaphor today.
 Kretzenbacher 2002, p. 4 of the typescript.
 This last paragraph owes very much to Harald
Weinrich’s remarks about what he called "Randschärfe" vs. "Kernprägnanz"
(Weinrich 1989, pp. 124-126).
 I apologize for that one, too. The closeness
of metaphor to the comic has long been acknowledged (cf. Schäfer
1996, pp. 75-78). In Gestalt theory all of this is discussed under the
terms of ‘figure’ and ‘ground’, including a number of studies on metaphor
from this theoretical angle (e.g. Glicksohn & Goodblatt 1993 or Tsur
2000). This is, however, not the place to discuss advantages and disadvantages
of different approaches.
 ‘Ikonotropie’ in the German original.
See L. Kretzenbacher 1970 and also numerous more recent texts, such as
L. Kretzenbacher 1986, p. 88; 1989; 1991; 1994, p. 51, up to and beyond
L. Kretzenbacher 1999. Unfortunately, there is not enough space here to
pay sufficient attention to L. Kretzenbacher’s development of this semiotically
exciting concept, so that this remains to be done in a more detailed study
on semasiotropy which I am working on at this stage.
 Cf. L. Kretzenbacher 1991, p. 217,
where the author acknowledges the inspiration for his own further development
of the concept by Schmidbauer (1969, p. 144). Schmidbauer himself traces
the term back to Robert von Ranke-Graves (cf. 1984, pp. 19-20).
In the same article, L. Kretzenbacher (1991, pp. 229-230) discusses and
eventually dismisses a suggested terminological change to ‘epithetotropy’,
which had been suggested by a colleague but has indeed never really been
taken up by the academic community.
 That might also explain why metaphor lends
itself so easily to combination with other tropes, such as the oxymoron
(cf. Gozzi 1999).
 This functional question has been asked
before, of course, e.g. by Cacciari 1998. My task here is to link
the focus of the question to the semiotic focus of the ‘p question’ in
the preceding section as well as to aesthetics.
 In a long tradition of visual metaphors
for style (of the type: ‘Loquere, ut te videam!’), this catchy term
was first used by Joseph Gusfield (1976, p. 17) and explained in the following
form: "In keeping with the normative prescriptions of scientific method,
language and style must be chosen which will approximate, as closely as
possible, a pane of clear glass".
 Kretzenbacher 1994b, pp. 91-92. He continues
to use this concept of ‘stylistic taboo’ in subsequent publications.
 Cf. Kretzenbacher 1992 and 1995.
 For the position of ‘elegance’ within the
stylistic discussion, cf. Stammerjohann 2002.
 Theodor Ickler (1993, p. 108), however,
maintains that metaphors in expository texts (including scientific texts)
are nothing but "stylistic means without cognitive consequences".
 Cf. Yang & Cheng 2000; Campos
& Figueiredo 2001; Campos & Figueiredo 2002.
 For more recent examples for such an attitude
in research starting from different backgrounds, cf. Gentner &
Wolff 2000, Miller 2000, and Stern 2001. The suggestion that metaphors
by themselves (as in the title Glucksberg et al. chose for their
1997 article) almost seems to underestimate humans by making them appear
as a sort of carrier material for metaphors.
 Cf. Fauconnier & Turner 1998,
2001; Turner & Fauconnier 1999; Pereira & Cardoso 2002.
 An aspect of intellectual work not entirely
unfamiliar to chemists (cf. Laszlo 2000).
 One could argue that in metaphorical semasiotropy
we ignore the boundaries between the ‘literal’ and the ‘figural’ as well.
 Such agendas, which could be understood
as concrete sub-functions in our model, are dealt with in detail by Solja
Paek (1999, pp. 249-59).
 For a similar attitude towards the part
metaphor plays in scientific innovation, see some of the contributions
to Danneberg et al. 1995.
 Cf. Hoffmann & Torrence 1993,
Hoffmann 1996 (and other contributions to that issue of Art Journal),
 Corradi Fiumara herself (1995, p. 82) applies
these words by Wittgenstein.
 Cf. the text of his speech reprinted
in Kretzenbacher 1998b, pp. 285-6.
Bailer-Jones, D.M.: 2000, ‘Scientific models as metaphors’, in: F. Hallyn
(ed.), Metaphor and analogy in the sciences, Kluwer, Dordrecht et
al., pp. 181-198.
Bailer-Jones, D.M.: 2001, ‘Naturwissenschaftliche Modelle: Von Epistemologie
zu Ontologie’, in: A. Beckermann & C. Nimtz (eds.), Argument und
Analyse – Sektionsvorträge. Ausgewählte Sektionsvorträge
des 4. internationalen Kongresses der Gesellschaft für Analytische
Philosophie Bielefeld, September 2000, Mentis-Verlag, Paderborn, pp.
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Heinz L. Kretzenbacher:
Department of German and Swedish Studies, The University of Melbourne,
Victoria 3010, Australia; firstname.lastname@example.org
2003 by HYLE and Heinz L. Kretzenbacher