Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Analogy of Meaning

In an analogy, one relationship is supposed to be identical in quality to another relationship. For example, if someone employs the analogy, "Grain is to bread as grapes are to wine," then they are making the claim that the relationship between grain and bread is the same thing as the relationship between grapes and wine.

From what I can tell, analogy is the fundamental principle of language and meaning. Whenever I say that one thing is something, I am really saying that "One thing is to something as instantiations are to categories." There is no pure ontological base for any linguistic concept. A thing's meaning is only as meaningful as meaning is meaningful. And meaning is only "full" of meaning as a relation.

Which means the foundation of meaning is metaphor. That is, a thing is what it is like. (This, of course, is incredible, since metaphor is displaced meaning, represented meaning, symbolized meaning. It is incredible because this means that a thing's meaning is found in its not-meaning.)