~ 4:30 Minute Read.
In Meaning The Same Words I was criticising the reusing of words or expanding their meaning when they already have a clear definition.
In my example I refered to a use of the word “light” to mean not “physical light” but rather “emotional light”, or better: emotional energy. Energy works better, because we already know different types of energy— electrical energy vs the energy we have in our body or don’t when we’re tired, for example.
The original title of this post was about metaphors until I realized this is less of a metaphor, which is
a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable. Source
instead it is more of an analogy, which is
a comparison between one thing and another, typically for the purpose of explanation or clarification. Source
Analogies can be used to explain highly abstract concepts in an understandible way. There are things that I merely “feel” how they are, without ever trying to put the abstract concepts behind them into words.
With the above light analogy the idea was that every human sends out this emotional energy in some way and missing energy is visualized as a “hole” that you can “see” and use as a signal for the person missing something or needing help. This “hole” manifests as bad behaviour towards others, bad temper or mood.
See, the underlying idea is likely that a person who is being what you could judge as “an asshole” to you actually probably just had a bad day (or worse). Yes, the idea is good, but if you now start running around telling people that people have holes in their body, you took the analogy literally.
Recently, I had a very interseting random conversation with a lady about her beliefs—whatever religion is not important here. It appears that often the main books of a religion pack many actually useful concepts and life recommendations into analogies. Like that lady, many people start running around telling people about the analogy in a literal sense rather than focusing on the abstract concept that lies behind it. In her specific case, though, it also gave her a great stability and footing in her life.
That’s just an idea, I have no clue with what intention these books were written, trying to give people a guide for living, maybe somehow conveying the wisdom of some realizations of older generations, is just one random one. Maybe getting a mainstream compatible way of living with each other into society to create a good common standard that improves everybody’s life is another—probably pretty far fetched—one.
I’m not a religious person, though, and while I am all for analogies, I don’t prefer them not to stick around once I extracted the underlying abstract concept. Analogies often seem to be either restricting to the concept or to extensive, rarely it fits so perfectly that it matches 1:1.
Have an example: I explain a pear to you using an apple. That’s great, it grows in a similar way, has similar consistency, maybe comparable appearance, pretty different taste and is generally not the same thing. You can clearly see where the analogy starts drifting away from the analogized concept. With abstract concepts, it is less clear, though, and you may be tempted to accidentally infer false properties from the analogy.
Written in 40 minutes, edited in 10 minutes.