Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Same But Different

We are all familiar with metaphors--their uses, their forms, their power--and so I wonder if they offer a familiar way to effectively master the Knowledge Question.  Please begin by considering Dr. Wheeler's definition of metaphor, paying particular attention to the quote from Aristotle. Next, please revisit this excellent explanation of how to extract knowledge issues, especially germane given the recent boson news.  Select a metaphor from your surroundings (summer reading? Extended Essay? Anyone?) and consider the ways in which it leads you to extract and transpose your knowledge.  Your post should reflect your careful reflection on all of the above.


  1. So, I’m not too sure whether this is appropriate for an academic forum, but it’s pretty much what’s on my mind right now. Last night, I went to a car meet that my friend, nicknamed Tesh, hosted in memory of his best friend (also very known in the car world) who died in a crash. This car meet was specifically for everyone to come out and get together with their cars to do burnouts, which is basically when a car is controlled so that it is spinning its wheels but not going anywhere, so the tires start to well- burn and cause a lot of smoke. Anyway, the meet was crazy- I saw a lot of friends and saw their recent works, inhaled a lot of nasty smoke that gave me a headache, gave the fire department a fun time, and got shut down by the cops 3 times by each new relocation spot. During one of the burnouts, I heard my friend standing next to me recording it saying, “The dragon is released!” I like this metaphor because although the quote says nothing about the dragon releasing anything besides itself, we were talking about a car blowing smoke; it was so much smoke that it might as well have been a dragon blowing fire. This follows the first line in the definition from the link given, “A comparison or analogy stated in such a way as to imply that one object is another one, figuratively speaking.”

    This metaphor helps me extract and transpose my knowledge because it expresses that there is a lot of smoke from the burnout, and that the car is dangerous. I learn better when I am able to reinforce my knowledge to somebody else, so if I wanted to explain what the burnout looked like to people who were not there (like all of you reading this), I would have compared the car to a dragon blowing fire (because there was so much that I did see a few sparks from the car). This helps paint a better image in your minds (hopefully), that this burnout did not produce just a little whisp of smoke, but more like a huge expanse of it to the point where you couldn’t see and thought you were about to have an asthma attack.

  2. In all seriousness, this assignment is Chinese class for me. I read this assignment a few times and it confused me on multiple levels multiple times. I looked at Sara-Sara’s example for some clarification and it helped a little but not much. I also asked another person for clarification and discovered that at this very point in time she didn’t understand either. Through my confusion I related this experience to learning a foreign language. I would have picked French, but it says a lot about the language of this assignment if I chose not to. For people who know me they know how much I struggle with and dislike French class. For me to compare this assignment to a language I know nothing about instead of a language I’ve been taking for three years show the level of difficulty I am having this morning. My statement “this assignment is Chinese class for me” is a metaphor because I don’t understand Chinese yet it is familiar to me because I have friends who understand and speak Chinese. I don’t fully understand this assignment and the language used just like how I don’t understand Chinese at all, but I have a lot of friends who do understand it( both this assignment and Chinese) and who speak the language. Aristotle quoted “for [one] to make good metaphors implies an eye for resemblances”. The resemblance between Chinese and this assignment is the level of difficulty it gives me.

  3. After having reflected upon the various responses to the question, I began to conjure the idea that for a metaphor to truly extract and transpose knowledge, it must be understood by another person. Plato developed a theory that for something to be true, it would have to be "described, and effectively and accurately, communicated to others." In addition, it would have to be convincing to whoever you communicate the idea to. This is what I believe was meant by Aristotle's statement that to "make good metaphors implies an eye for resemblances." Thus a metaphor cannot simply be “a comparison or analogy stated in such a way as to imply that one object is another one, figuratively speaking.” A metaphor needs to be communicated to others in a convincing manner, such that we can extract the knowledge through the resemblances instilled in the metaphor. For instance, the "dragon being released" clearly communicated to me the quantity of smoke that must have been in the air. Thus, it allowed us to extract Sara's knowledge. My brother recently told me that "we are the authors of who we are." I thought it was an interesting and certainly pertinent statement given our upcoming graduation. From the word "author," I could extract the notion that external forces have no impact on the decisions that affect us and ultimately make us. The connotations implicated in the quote suggests that we can make our own narrative. Moreover, this would be a good quotation as it encompasses the theme that we can make a difference through our actions. Essentially, we are the authors of our self-discovery.

  4. The way I see Aristotle’s quote is that, metaphor as a way of knowing and good metaphors could extract truth and reality within the sentence; the metaphor works as long as the it supports the reality or together, it creates some sort of knowledge. Recently, I’m taking driving lessons, and throughout the entire month, I learned about how to make turns and memorized the “steps” to park a car in different ways, and also drive “S” shaped road. I kept memorize where to make turns and how much I should turn, and as long as I remember the steps and I turn on the right point, I will pass the test. However, I don’t think that would work the same way when I’m driving on the road in Taipei, and I couldn’t even imagine myself driving in a big city when there are cars surround me and scooters all over the boulevard. For me, I think it is a great metaphor for life, since there are nothing better than the experiences we owned, I learned nothing wrong, but the real life situation makes everything different, I can’t see and deal with things the same way as I learned in school or anywhere, sometimes I just need to experience.

  5. Aristotle's quote on metaphors basically gives props to those who can use it effectively, for they have an "eye for resemblances." I fully agree with Aristotle, since during a discussion with a friend about growing up and when she said "time is a thief," and it made perfect sense to the situation. During the conversation, I was telling my friend that I refuse to grow up. When she said "time is a thief," she was not suggesting that time actually steals but that time goes by fast and so does our lives. Like a thief, time robs us of our youth. I am positive that she did not come up with the saying but her usage of the phrase was good. Metaphors helps with the seeking of resemblances and by doing so, one can retain more information. The physicists from the Boson News found the resemblance between the particle found and the creation of the Earth. This will allow new information on the universe to evolve. The existence of metaphors, to my opinion is to make connections to further the explorations of knowledge.

  6. I really like the Aristotle quote. I agree, that when one can create an analogy between two things, they have really understood the two topics or things. I agree with TO that a metaphor implies knowledge. Just before I began on my ToK post, I was driving home from work and it began to rain. As I stepped under the breeze-way to my house, it began to pour and I thought to myself, "it is raining cats and dogs out there!". Obviously, it was not actually raining mammals though it was down pouring (it sounds like it has stopped though). The saying,"it's raining cats and dogs" implies that one understands the above. Thinking about this all has me a bit curious, so, with some help from Google, I learned that there is no true meaning or origin- its unsure and that is possibly was derived from the facts that animals, like cats and dogs, would die and be left in the streets during extreme rain. This would give the look of cats and dogs having fallen from the sky. After having read this, it makes me wonder, how much have I really just accepted for being a fact without questioning it? I bet I have question the cats and dogs but what else should I have question but let go? Answer: Probably a lot.

  7. From the definition of a metaphor, it made me consider the ways in which a metaphor can be used. I did not realize that they were so powerful, like the example used from "Twickenham Garden,” when I read it I was really sitting there thinking about it. I have read/heard metaphors which have power as well but I never usually have time to stop and think about their power. Ami’s metaphor is something that I have been experiencing in a lot of different areas of my life. One instance was when I went to visit my family last week and they all noticed how grown I am because I drove to visit them without my parents, just my little sister. And just like Ami, I am in denial about growing up and want to stay a kid; but my recent visit slapped me in the face and made me realize that I’m getting older. Having other people comment on growth may be annoying, but it provides the knowledge that you’re growing up, because I don’t always see my aunts/uncles/cousin, so they see periodic growth. Another moment where I see time being a thief is with my summer homework; it seems like I have so much to do for school and at home, that time is slipping away. Seeing the time going quickly gives me knowledge that I need to use time wisely and effectively, because the summer is halfway over, which is hard to believe.

  8. I agree with Kate and TO that "a metaphor implies knowledge." I feel that the mark of someone who truly understands the connection between oneself and its surroundings, values the importance of metaphors. As Aristotle said, "it is the mark of a genius," to find those resemblances in life. Even the article on the Higgs boson is in fact full of metaphors, which is meant to help the reader understand the science of this discovery. In the article it is said that the Higgs boson, "is the only manifestation of an invisible force field, a cosmic molasses that permeates space and imbues elementary particles with mass. Particles wading through the field gain heft the way a bill going through Congress attracts riders and amendments, becoming ever more ponderous." Describing particles as Congress!

    Now, it is easy to be frustrated with summer reading as time progresses. We don't want to focus on school work, we want to go out and do summery things.But before we jump to conclusions that summer reading doesn't help us, think again. I am reminded of an Emily Dickinson poem in which she describes books as the following:

    "There is no frigate like a book
    To take us lands away,
    Nor any coursers like a page
    Of prancing poetry.
    This traverse may the poorest take
    Without oppress of toll;
    How frugal is the chariot
    That bears a human soul!"

    A book is a boat or a chariot that can take us anywhere we want. We can escape from the world and travel to other dimensions. What if your not going on a vacation this summer. Pick up the summer reading book and travel to the Congo. These books are not here to torture us this summer. They are here to provide an escape and sanctuary.

  9. Having just completed eighty hours of singing under various crazy choral directors this week, I am reminded - appropriately I hope - of the various ways my fellow singers and I were encouraged to think about and convey the pieces of music we were performing. Metaphors, it goes without saying, were abundant: we had rods up our backs, our lungs were balloons and then fireplace bellows, and our music became a "mellifluous and cascading waterfall," in the much-quoted words of one of my more eloquent peers during his conducting workshop. Indeed, I have found that my most satisfying choral experiences have been under conductors who knew how to describe music using metaphors: hippos wallowing in mud, giants tiptoeing through castles. Though at first the effect is comic, the change in one's perception of the music can be astonishing, as can the change in one's interpretation of it. Observed matter-of-factly, all that has happened is that someone has explained or described a pre-existing bunch of sounds using an unrelated, even soundless scenario, and suddenly the sounds have a new perceived dimension. Of course, metaphors present in the pieces performed as well - God became various objects, including a Seat, an Isle, and a Lamb. In all these cases, the tenor was something not easily grasped - from a concept of an omnipotent and omniscient being to creating beautiful music from marks on a page - and the vehicle helped enlighten the listeners (as is the case, I suppose, with all metaphors).

  10. A metaphor really empowers and enriches the english language. Because when figuratively speaking, you can make the sentence yours and relatable to the aspect of your life that fits to you. A couple weeks ago, when my parents were having a discussion (more of a endless complaining session) about their co-workers, they were using quite a lot of metaphors. But the one that really got my attention was when my mom described her boss as this "il se croit sortit de la cuisse de Jupiter". This literally translate to "my boss thinks that he got out of Jupiter's leg" Jupiter being the chief God in Roman mythology. But it correctly translate to "My boss thinks of himself as God's gift to humanity and the world" or simply "My boss thinks he is the center of the universe". So this shows how much power a metaphor can have, either it is comparing one's boss to a Roman God or simply trying to feel it resonate in your head in many different languages and contexts.

    As Aristole stated a metaphor really is a mark of genius, if one tried to modify it even by a single word, its meaning would be modified and not the same would apply. The word metaphor also comes from the greek word to transfer, so when thinking about its power, I also thought about its origin to reinforce its power. So, i thought about it in two ways, a metaphor could be a transfer such as from literal meaning to figurative meaning, or a transfer such as from one understanding to one's interpretation. Thus a metaphor is one of the elements that truly succeed in making our knowledge and understanding more complex ans sophisticated.


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