Analogy as the core of cognition

I majored in philosophy in college. At Princeton nearly all liberal arts majors (and many of the engineering students too) have to write a senior thesis to graduate.
I was interested in philosophy of language and wrote a thesis called “Is Metaphor Necessary for Communication?” In it I argued that metaphor was much more than a rhetorical frill but in fact constituted a primary building-block of communication.
Briefly put, I suggested that it’s only through comparisons with existing shared ideas that new ideas (ideas from one person that are new to another) are introduced into a dialogue between two people
In Analogy as the Core of Cognition, a Stanford presidential lecture, Douglas Hofstadter makes a rather similar point:

To me, however, analogy is anything but a bitty blip — rather, it’s the very blue that fills the whole sky of cognition — analogy is everything, or very nearly so, in my view.

I find it particularly interesting that he illustrates some of his points by discussing the process of translation, which was also a topic in my thesis.





One response to “Analogy as the core of cognition”

  1. Scot Hacker Avatar

    Which is why examples in technical text are so critical to understanding documentation. It’s shocking how many tech books are shy on examples.