Metaphor as Measurement and Vice Versa: Convergence and Separation of Figure and Meaning in a Mawri Proverb
William P. Fisher Jr.
University of California, Berkeley
January 25, 2011
To what extent can metaphorical figures be said to converge with and separate from meaning in the postmodern context’s distrust of metanarratives? The need for any discourse, even a discourse of deconstruction, to assume some degree of such convergence and separability is related to Heidegger’s construal of the ancient Greek category ta mathemata as the fundamental metaphysical presupposition of “Academic” thinking. Metaphorically attuned and metaphysically cognizant quantification is hypothesized to require attention to the dialectical projection of mathematical criteria capable of creating an opening through which invariant expressions of meaning may emerge and persist. A class of measurement models ontologically structured in this way are described and briefly contrasted with more commonly applied approaches to psychosocial quantification. The extent to which the Nigerien Mawri metaphoric proverb “life is a mango” obtains a rigorous degree of figure-meaning convergence and separation is illustrated via an example involving a 59-question survey to which 77 persons responded. Grounding in an ontological method offers the potential for integrating metaphor and measurement in a common framework oriented toward the creation of meaning.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 45
Keywords: Metaphor, Measurement, Niger, Mawri, Science, Philosophy, Method, Ontology, Quantification, Qualitative Methods, Mixed Methods, Meaningfulness, Language, Mathematical Thinking, Instrument Calibration, Postmodernism
JEL Classification: C00, C42, C52, C80, D10, N17, N57, Z10working papers series
Date posted: January 26, 2011 ; Last revised: October 6, 2011
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