IGS Discussion Forums: Learning GS Topics: Like ... ? (GS Similes)
Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, December 2, 2006 - 04:32 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

General semantics "is"? "like" (has a similar sub-structure with ) ___.

Frozen yogurt is like ice cream, because it's cold, creamy, sweet, made from similar ingredients, and presents a very similar taste and texture experience.

I would prefer to reserve "is like" for similarities as close as the frozen yogurt and ice cream example above. I have not yet thought of anything as similar to general semantics as in the above case.

Here are four "is like" relations to limited abstractions from general semantics.

General semantics is like Popper's philosophy of science, but only in it's theoretical regard. It is like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), but only in its therapeutic application regard. It is like evolutionary epistemology, but only in its representational aspects. It is like a religious cult, but only in the tendency of its adherents to continually quote the master.

Popper's principle of falsification.

CBT's principle of consciousness of abstracting.

Evolutionary epistemology's principle of updating representations by use and testing.

Cultism's principle of quoting the master with little or no revision.

Something "is like" something else when the abstractor abstracts each of two things to a single structure, thus "ignoring" the differences.

My question becomes, how big must the proportion of differences to similarities be before one says that they are "too difference" to "be like" each other?

Any two things can be looked at (abstracted) from sufficiently high a level of abstracting so as to notice only "the same" structure in both, and any two things can be looked at (extensionalized) from sufficiently low a level of abstracting so at to notice only the differences between them. Similarity or difference is a function of the level of observation chosen by the abstractor.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, December 3, 2006 - 11:02 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

I have no idea what your "maybe not" applied to. Your antecedent to this formulation is not clear.

A simile is a metaphor which explicitly uses the words 'like' or 'as'.

Although your title used the word "simile" in parentheses, you explicitly asked for what "general semantics is like ______. I gave you four. You also asked for an explanation, and that requests the person to make explicit the characteristics that that person abstracted as common to both general semantics and what that person "saw" general semantics "as like".

You did not ask for a "poetic simile" in which two VASTLY DIFFERENT things are contrasted on the basis of one small similarity.

Your request was like a computer program. You wrote a request for an output, but, although the output was what you explicitly asked for, it did not match your desired intent, and that is because what you explicitly asked for did not adequately formulate what you desired.

All the comparisons I provided involve quite different things in which a similarity is expressed.

Google - Define:simile

a figure of speech that expresses a resemblance between things of different kinds (usually formed with `like' or `as') - http://wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

A comparison between two objects using the words "like" or "as" Ex: She was as mad as a rabid dog. - http://www.moondance.org/2001/summer01/risingstars/literary.html

[A simile] is a figure of speech in which two basically unlike things are compared using "like" or "as" : "My love is like a red, red rose." - http://www.state.tn.us/education/ci/cistandards2001/la/cilaglossary.htm

símil (comparing one thing with another using "like" or "as"; effectively, a metaphor in which the comparison is made explicit -- "una navaja como una serpiente"); - http://www.dur.ac.uk/m.p.thompson/rhetoric.htm

a figure of speech in which one thing is directly likened to another - http://www.nwlg.org/pages/resources/knowitall/resources/english.htm

Water is not like rocks, but ice can be.

Like an avalanche of rocks, the glacier face gave way.

The wasps defending their nest were like jet fighters conducting strafing runs.

Incidentally, providing the explicit explanation effectively destroys the poetry. Similes are effective when they bring a non-verbal appreciation of similarities, a vivid image, to the "mind" of the reader, but do not verbally make the similarities explicit. My "but only" comments did that.

A poetic metaphor:
If I say, "the sea scratched and clawed at the cliff face, tearing great gashes in the shoreline, until it fell, exhausted, a mere shadow of its former self."

A poetic simile.

If I say, "like a ferocious predator, the sea scratched and clawed at the cliff face, tearing great gashes in the shoreline, until it fell, exhausted, a mere shadow of its former self.

A simile.

Direct current electricity in a conductor is like water in a hose. Voltage is like the water pressure; current is like the water flow.

A metaphor (also an analogy).
Direct current electricity in a conductor can be contrasted with water in a hose. Voltage corresponds to the water pressure; current corresponds to the water flow.

I would suggest that we have far too many very different views being expressed as to what general semantics "is" for very many "is like" to evoke widespread recognition. One has to have a clear grasp of both metaphier and metaphrand for the metaphor to be effective, and since a simile is simply a metaphor with an explicit use of the words 'like' or 'as', that clarity would also be required for the simile to be effective.

Using a metaphor when the listener is only familiar with one of the two contrasted entities can "teach" the listener by allowing the listener to bring the one knowledge they have to the unknown. For a metaphor to be poetically effective, the listener must have knowledge of both items being contrasted, and the use of the comparison must evoke a similarity in the mind of the listener; the listener must form a common abstraction from two distinct known entities.

If you have seen movies of jet planes strafing, and your have seen angry wasps buzzing around a disturbed net, the metaphor or the simile, whichever is used, can evoke the vivid picture of wasps dive-bombing hapless intruders using the flight patterns and tactics shown in the war movies. But if you have never seen war movies, the metaphor or simile does not work. If you have never seen angry wasps, it also does not work.

So, what is it that you would like to see in your request to further obfuscating the understanding of general semantics by associating it with a host of unsimilar things?

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Thursday, December 7, 2006 - 01:39 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Metaphors by definition do not employ "identity". Metaphors relate two unlike things as having a portion of each that is seen as similar to the other. Similes are, by definition, metaphors that use the words 'like' or 'as' explicitly. The distinction is more or less academic in teaching English, where the more poetic "figures of speech" also include personification (attributing life-like characteristics to non-living things) and allegory (an extended metaphor).

The main difference between a metaphor and a simile is that metaphors are implicit comparisons while similes are explicit comparisons.

If anything, it is the explicit 'is like' in similes that employs "identification" more than the implicit lack in metaphors.

Here is a more complete list of figures of speech

The plethora of differing descriptions of general semantics is so varied that asking for "poetic similes", it seems, in my opinion, will add to the already extensive confusion and ambiguity.

Formulate a statement purporting to describe general semantics in a way that covers its aspect nearly completely. Expand that at a more extensional level that provides a description of each of the facets or characteristics included in the general description. And let the Institute provide a formal standard such "definition".

As the general semantics sub-discipline language "E-prime" advocates never using 'is', similes using 'is like' get prohibited, and you are explicitly asking for them? You asked for identifications.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Thursday, December 7, 2006 - 10:27 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

I would not use innards and externals in association with metaphor and simile in the way that you appear to. Innards are not visible, so I would relate implicit; externals are visible, so I would relate explicit, and this pairing is exactly the opposite of your association - simile with external - visible and explicit - and metaphor with internal - not visible and implicit.

I referred to both the content and the form. Similes and metaphors have the same content - that of comparing two unlike things. But they have different form, in the presence or absence of the explicit words 'like' or 'as'.

In "What color was the getaway car?", the existence of a getaway car is presumed - that is, implied. It is presumed and implicit.

In, "The thieves escaped in a car; did you see what color it was?", the existence of a getaway care is asserted - that is stated. It is asserted and explicit.

Implicit relates to presumed, while explicit relates to asserted.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, December 11, 2006 - 09:42 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Does grease make arguments "slippery"? (nigh impossible to hold on to)?

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, December 11, 2006 - 09:57 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

"Can act like" - a simile without "is" - a "non-identifying simile"?
"Can sometimes help ..." neither a simile nor a metaphor - points toward extensional observation.

Many figures of speech, like poetry, provides ambiguity; the listener can mistake confusion for profundity, and through repetition, mistake the ring of familiarity of an oft-repeated formulation for understanding.