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Topic: Re:Re:A Simple Question?
Posted by: J Rose
Date/Time: 01/10/2003 02:56:17

Ken and everybody else,

I'm really enjoying your thoughts on the subject. I think this is a devestatingly important topic in which to plung around.  If you don't mind, I'd like to put down a few thoughts on metaphor.

A metaphor is one example of what Barfield calls "other-saying": saying one thing (that must be received as a fiction), and intending by it a second thing. Whatever else we claim about such statements, we cannot call them tautologies, for on their face they are not even true. Nevertheless, they are frequently meaningful.

"I do not think we can say that meaning, in itself, is either true or untrue. All we can safely say is, that that quality which makes some people say: 'That is self-evident' or 'that is obviously true,' and which makes others say: 'That is a tautology,' is precisely the quality which meaning hasn't got."

Meaning, then, is born of a kind of fiction, yet it is the content, or raw material of truth. And it is important to realize that other- saying -- for example, symbol, metaphor, and allegory -- is not a mere curiosity in the history of language. As Barfield stresses on so many occasions, virtually our entire language appears to have originated with other-saying:

"Anyone who cares to nose about for half an hour in an etymological dictionary will at once be overwhelmed with [examples]. I don't mean out-of-the-way poetic words, I mean quite ordinary words like love, behaviour, multiply, shrewdly and so on .... To instance two extreme cases, the words right and wrong appear to go back to two words meaning respectively "stretched" and so "straight," and "wringing" or "sour." And the same thing applies to all our words for mental operations, conceiving, apprehending, understanding..."

Nor do we gain much by appealing to the physical sciences for exceptions. As Barfield elsewhere points out, even "high-sounding `scientific' terms like cause, reference, organism, stimulus, etc., are not miraculously exempt" from the rule that nearly all linguistic symbols have a figurative origin. For example, "stimulus" derives from a Latin word designating an object used as a spur or a goad. Similarly for such words as "absolute," "concept," "potential," "matter," "form," "objective," "general," "individual," "abstract."

"The first thing we observe, when we look at language historically, is that nearly all words appear to consist of fossilized metaphors, or fossilized "other-saying" of some sort. This is a fact. It is not a brilliant apercu of my own, nor is it an interesting theory which is disputed or even discussed among etymologists. It is the sort of thing they have for breakfast."

In sum: when we look at language, we find it continually changing; our discovery of facts and truths occurs only in creative tension with an evolution of meanings that continually transforms the facts and truths. Outside this tensive relation we have no facts, and we have no truths; there is only the quest for a kind of disembodied validity in which (to recall Russell's words) "we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true" -- or else the dumbstruck quest for ineffable visions.

The emergence of meaning is always associated with what, from a fixed and strictly logical standpoint, appears as untruth. And it is just this meaning with which, as knowers, we embrace the world.

Entire Thread

TopicDate PostedPosted By
A Simple Question?30/09/2003 03:18:42InnerCalm
     Re:A Simple Question?30/09/2003 07:24:29Stephen Bray
          Re:Re:A Simple Question?30/09/2003 18:25:57InnerCalm
     Re: A Simple Question?30/09/2003 17:39:02Ryan Nagy
     Re:A Simple Question?30/09/2003 19:41:51Ken
          Re:Re:A Simple Question?01/10/2003 02:56:17J Rose
               Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?01/10/2003 06:10:31InnerCalm
                    Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?01/10/2003 13:00:23Debby Hitchens
                         Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?01/10/2003 17:04:51InnerCalm
                              Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?01/10/2003 21:09:28Jim r
                                   Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?02/10/2003 01:00:16InnerCalm
                                        Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?02/10/2003 01:54:33Deb
                                             Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?02/10/2003 02:16:38InnerCalm
                                        Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?02/10/2003 03:29:37Jim R
                                             Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?02/10/2003 06:08:44InnerCalm
                                                  Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?02/10/2003 14:34:44Jim R
                                                       Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?03/10/2003 00:28:57InnerCalm
                                                            Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?03/10/2003 04:25:02Jim R
                                                                 Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?05/10/2003 00:08:04Martin Messier
                                                                      Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?05/10/2003 03:05:44InnerCalm
                                                                           Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?06/10/2003 18:48:09Todd Sloane
                                                                                Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?06/10/2003 19:27:59InnerCalm
                                                                                     Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?07/10/2003 04:04:41Todd Sloane
                                                                                     Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?07/10/2003 21:57:15Fabiano Lazlo
                                                                      Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?07/10/2003 06:46:05Jim R
                    Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?02/10/2003 02:57:13Ryan Nagy
                         Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?02/10/2003 06:10:44InnerCalm
                         Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?02/10/2003 06:14:27InnerCalm
                              Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?02/10/2003 12:10:03Stephen Bray
                         Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?03/10/2003 04:11:47InnerCalm
                              Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?03/10/2003 08:22:42Stephen Bray
                                   Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?03/10/2003 18:48:17InnerCalm
                                        Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?04/10/2003 06:56:46Stephen Bray
                                             Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?05/10/2003 03:20:50InnerCalm
                              Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?03/10/2003 20:13:38Ryan Nagy
                                   Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?04/10/2003 05:20:47InnerCalm
                                        Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?04/10/2003 16:40:38Ryan Nagy
                         Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?03/10/2003 16:10:20John Schertzer
                              Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?03/10/2003 20:24:15Ryan Nagy
               Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?02/10/2003 02:59:03Pete West
                    Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?02/10/2003 12:47:41J Rose
                    Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?02/10/2003 18:27:58J Rose
                         Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?03/10/2003 00:11:42InnerCalm
                              Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?04/10/2003 16:44:53Ryan Nagy
                                   Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?04/10/2003 18:39:35InnerCalm
                                        Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?05/10/2003 04:19:10Ryan Nagy
                                             Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?05/10/2003 05:04:06InnerCalm
                                                  Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:A Simple Question?05/10/2003 05:27:26Ryan

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