Chapter 7: Industrial ecology and industrial matabolism: use and misuse of metaphors
7. Industrial ecology and industrial metabolism:use and misuse of metaphors Allan Johansson THE VALUE OF METAPHORS The use of visual metaphors goes far back in human history. Early evolutionary evidence indicates that, about 35 000 years ago, humans began to use body ornaments that evoked qualities of animal species (Seitz 2000; White 1989). They also sculpted abstract designs that are believed to be depictions of objects and represent the transfer of patterns in nature to a context in which they function aesthetically, that is to say as visual metaphors. Metaphors according to Aristotle ‘are a device that consists in giving the thing a name that belongs to something else’ (Eisenberg 1992). But their use goes much deeper than that; they constitute an important instrument for transferring meaning, in correspondence with the original Greek derivation ‘metapherein’,to transfer (Seitz 2000). By giving a new name to something one implicitly, but discretely, conveys the thought that some, but not all, of the characteristic properties are carried over, together with the name. It is this element of ‘wishful thinking’ that causes problems in the use of metaphors in science. Predominantly an artistic instrument, the use of metaphors involves a certain poetic indeterminacy. This allows for a new dimension of communication through the play of imagination, which goes beyond the possibilities of formal strict verbal communication. In literature the theories of metaphors have generally concentrated on studies of their use in language and literature only, and it is only recently that more systematic...
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