Chapter

A Theory of Figurative Comparisons

Robert J. Fogelin

in Figuratively Speaking

Second edition

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199739998
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199895045 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199739998.003.0006
A Theory of Figurative Comparisons

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With these objections out of the way, this chapter presents a positive account of how figurative comparisons function. Figurative comparisons build on the resources provided by non-figurative (or literal) comparisons. Roughly, a literal claim that A is similar to B indicates A shares some of B's salient features. Such claims are valuable in at least three ways: (1) They can convey a great deal of information in a compact form; (2) They can solve ineffability problems; and (3) They can call attention to likenesses that might go unnoticed. Following Tversky, with metaphors, the governing salient features are reversed from B to A, thus setting for the respondent the task of readjusting the context to make sense of this shift.

Keywords: literal comparisons; figurative comparisons; salience; reversibility; Tversky

Chapter.  5579 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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