English 104:  Figurative Language
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English 104: Figurative Language

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Presentation delivered to the English 104 class at Victor Valley College.

Presentation delivered to the English 104 class at Victor Valley College.

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English 104:  Figurative Language English 104: Figurative Language Presentation Transcript

  • Figurative Language
  •  Comparisons help the reader to understand concepts by drawing parallels between an unknown and a known • Metaphor • Simile • Analogy
  •  Figure of speech comparing two things (without using ‘like’ or ‘as’)  Example: • “Dr. Love […] claims that scientists have found the glue that holds society together” (Crockett).  Compares oxytocin to ‘glue’ to illustrate oxytocin’s supposed role in human empathy and bonding • “The most evident bridge between morality and religion is the idea of virtue” (Murdoch 363).  Compares ‘virtue’ to a ‘bridge’ in order to illustrate the idea that virtue connects morality and religion; both morality and religion share concepts of virtue
  •  Figure of speech using ‘like’ or ‘as’ to compare two things  Example: • “Who is the center of the wedding solar system? The bride. She had the biggest increase in oxytocin. […] Her mother was number two. Then the groom's father, then the groom, then the family, then the friends -- arrayed around the bride like planets around the Sun” (Zak).  Compares wedding attendants to ‘planets around the Sun’ in order to illustrate the central role of the bride and thus her relationship to oxytocin levels  Gives his example extra impact and flare with the added solar system imagery
  •  Extended comparisons often used to argue that if two things are alike in one way, they are alike in other ways as well  Argument from analogy • Doesn’t state that two things are identical, only similar • Strength of argument depends upon factors such as the examples used in the analogy, the relevance of the similarities, and the number of shared characteristics between the examples
  •  Examples: • “[H]ow therefore can there be an objective notion of well-being? Well, consider by analogy, the concept of physical health. The concept of physical health is undefined. […] Notice that the fact that the concept of health is open, genuinely open for revision, does not make it vacuous” (Harris). • “[W]hy wouldn’t this undermine an objective morality? Well think of how we talk about food […] There is clearly a range of materials that constitute healthy food. But there’s nevertheless a clear distinction between food and poison. The fact that there are many right answers to the question, ‘What is food?’ does not tempt us to say that there are no truths to be known about human nutrition” (Harris).
  •  Arguments from analogy can be refuted using • Disanalogy: Arguing that the two compared items have many relevant dissimilarities • Counteranalogy: Counterargument related to the analogy • Unintended consequences: Stating that the analogy leads to conclusions that undermine the original argument
  •  Watchmaker analogy: “It is ridiculous to assume that a complex object, like a watch, came about randomly. Therefore, one must assume that a complex object, like the universe, must have an intelligent designer in the form of God.”  Philosopher David Hume refutes watchmaker analogy: • Disanalogy: A watch and the universe have many dissimilarities; for instance, the universe can be disorderly and random. • Counteranalogy: Some natural objects (like snowflakes) also have order and complexity but are not the result of intelligent design. • Unintended consequences: Complex objects, such as watches, result from the labor of many individuals; thus the watchmaker analogy unintentionally implies polytheism. (“Argument from analogy”)
  •  “[W]hy wouldn’t this undermine an objective morality? Well think of how we talk about food […] There is clearly a range of materials that constitute healthy food. But there’s nevertheless a clear distinction between food and poison. The fact that there are many right answers to the question, ‘What is food?’ does not tempt us to say that there are no truths to be known about human nutrition” (Harris).  Refuting Sam Harris’ morality-food analogy: • Disanalogy: Morality and food have many dissimilarities; morality relates to the mind and philosophy, while food deals with the physical, so the two cannot be compared. • Counteranalogy: Many poisons are used in medicine, and thus can be considered ‘healthy.’ • Unintended consequences: Many people experience allergic reactions to certain foods, so what may be healthy food for one person may be detrimental to another. Similarly, what may be moral for one person may be immoral to another person. Therefore, comparing morality to food unintentionally supports the view of moral relativism.
  •  “[W]hy wouldn’t this undermine an objective morality? Well think of how we talk about food […] There is clearly a range of materials that constitute healthy food. But there’s nevertheless a clear distinction between food and poison. The fact that there are many right answers to the question, ‘What is food?’ does not tempt us to say that there are no truths to be known about human nutrition” (Harris).  Refuting Sam Harris’ morality-food analogy: • Disanalogy: Morality and food have many dissimilarities; morality relates to the mind and philosophy, while food deals with the physical, so the two cannot be compared. • Counteranalogy: Many poisons are used in medicine, and thus can be considered ‘healthy.’ • Unintended consequences: Many people experience allergic reactions to certain foods, so what may be healthy food for one person may be detrimental to another. Similarly, what may be moral for one person may be immoral to another person. Therefore, comparing morality to food unintentionally supports the view of moral relativism.