Metaphor as Measurement and Vice Versa: Convergence and Separation of Figure and Meaning in a Mawri Proverb

45 Pages Posted: 26 Jan 2011 Last revised: 6 Oct 2011

See all articles by William P. Fisher

William P. Fisher

University of California, Berkeley - BEAR Center

Date Written: 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.

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, Z10

Suggested Citation

Fisher, William P., Metaphor as Measurement and Vice Versa: Convergence and Separation of Figure and Meaning in a Mawri Proverb (January 25, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

William P. Fisher (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - BEAR Center ( email )

Berkeley, CA 94704
United States


Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics