Analogy as the core of cognition

I majored in philosophy in college. At Princeton nearly all liberal arts majors (and many of the engineering students too) have to write a senior thesis to graduate.
I was interested in philosophy of language and wrote a thesis called “Is Metaphor Necessary for Communication?” In it I argued that metaphor was much more than a rhetorical frill but in fact constituted a primary building-block of communication.
Briefly put, I suggested that it’s only through comparisons with existing shared ideas that new ideas (ideas from one person that are new to another) are introduced into a dialogue between two people
In Analogy as the Core of Cognition, a Stanford presidential lecture, Douglas Hofstadter makes a rather similar point:

To me, however, analogy is anything but a bitty blip — rather, it’s the very blue that fills the whole sky of cognition — analogy is everything, or very nearly so, in my view.

I find it particularly interesting that he illustrates some of his points by discussing the process of translation, which was also a topic in my thesis.

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One Response to “Analogy as the core of cognition”

  1. Scot Hacker Says:

    Which is why examples in technical text are so critical to understanding documentation. It’s shocking how many tech books are shy on examples.

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