Per velamina veritatis [Book Review]

Bochumer Philosophisches Jahrbuch Fur Antike Und Mittelalter 5 (1):97-127 (2000)
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Abstract

A long philosophical tradition has regarded the use of metaphorical utterances as a stylistic figuration without any cognitive aspect. Metaphors are categorial mistakes diverting the ordinary usage of concepts, and therefore are in logical opposition to standard meaning. However, a metaphor can be regarded not only as a vague linguistic enunciation, but also as a significant process of thought. In other words, metaphor is a figure of the mind, a necessary way of thinking, because the language-world relation is not bijective. Metaphorical truth implies meanings not initially perceived as rational, yet full of possible features which have to be historically and socially determined. This successive interpretation yields new concepts and produces a growth of knowledge. In addition, the metaphorical usage of language allows us to name what is outside the range of logically formalizable language: interior experiences, God and so forth. The metaphorical mind is capable of moulding different views of the world, including those selected in accordance with the current social needs of the human community. This essay suggests that the use of metaphors is already present in medieval philosophical thought, and it tries to ground this statement through the analysis of late-scholastic metaphorical reasonings in ontology, biology and theology.

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