The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 17, 1998

Philosophical Methodology

Constanze Peres
Pages 54-61

On Using Metaphors in Philosophy

This paper deals with the question of whether metaphors are sufficient for the fulfillment of philosophical tasks, and, if they are, which cognitive or methodological place metaphors can have within philosophical discourse. We can distinguish three attitudes toward metaphors. First is the general rejection of metaphors in philosophy. Second is the unrestricted affirmation of metaphors as ‘absolute’ and as compensating for metaphysics. This conception will be analyzed critically and shown to be self-contradictory. The third position can be described as the restricted affirmation of using metaphors. According to this view, metaphors can be characterized as-strictly speaking-non-philosophical but extrinsic to constitutive forms in constructing theories. In this view, their function is not to explain, and they cannot be used as arguments. But, often they contain numerous implications with value for innovation, as they can anticipate holistic projections which are not yet fulfilled by theoretical analysis.