In one of the SBL sessions I attended this week, one of the papers led to questions about whether it was meaningful to switch from using the word “metaphor” to using “analogy.”
In other words, is there a distinction between?:
- The psalmist uses the metaphor ”the Lord is my rock.”
- The psalmist uses the analogy ”the Lord is my rock.”
My initial reaction in a situation like this is that the word “analogy” might simply be a superordinate term to “metaphor” and thus is substitutable for “metaphor” in some contexts.* In this case, it might not be a meaningful switch, unless an author or speaker has made a distinction clear and is consistent using the words with precise meanings.
On the other hand, I have seen recently in Hofstadter and Sander’s Surfaces and Essences they call metaphor a “close cousin” to analogy. Of course, “close cousin” might be used loosely there, but that might suggest that there is more of a distinction.
What do you think? Is there a strong distinction between 1 and 2 above?
* In ordinary language usage, superordinate (more general) terms are often substitutable for subordinate (more specific) terms without resulting in significant change in meaning. For example, if you see someone walking their dog, you could say:
- That’s a beautiful dog you have there.
- That’s a beautiful dachshund you have there.
Perhaps in the second case this might indicate the speaker is a dog aficionado or that there are other dogs in the context that the dachshund needs to be distinguished from. And, maybe this point is important for the example of “metaphor” and “analogy” above.