A trope (used rhetorically) = a figurative use of speech. Metaphors, similes and metonymic sememes are rhetorical tropes. A sememe = a linguistic sign (i.e. a word). A metasememe = Figuren der semantischen Deviation or metaphor, that is, a linguistic sign that undergoes some type of change (based on the etymology for "meta"). Cf. the German "Ubertragung." According to the Encyclopedia of Rhetoric edited by Thomas O. Sloane, a metaphor is a metasememe that is characterized by a substitution involving similarities. Is that a little more helpful? Sorry if some of this STOFF or my expressing of this STOFF comes across in an opaque manner. I do take pains to define terms in my dissertation.Blosser:
Well, HELL, my friend, why didn't you jes' SAY SO!? Like I've always been tellin' ya, you could have just used everyday words, couldn't ya have? I mean, if a "sememe" means, in your own words, "a linguistic sign (i.e. a word)," then why in hell not just say "word"? Nothing like a good expensive edjumacation to complexify your speech, eh!Interlocutor:
But thanks for the definitions. Now at least I KNOW yo jes puffin 'n' crappin'! (That, by the way is a metasemene (i.e., a Figuren der semantischen Deviation) used by Prof. Von Dohlen with a wide range of semantic meaning and broad manifold of diaphonic allusiveness and expansive acoustical space. (How am I doin'? ...)
On [the point that God is appropriately called "Father" rather than "Mother"], we agree. My only beef with you, it seems, is that we part ways on what "Father" communicates with respect to determinate concepts. I hold that no ontology of gender is implied by the expression "God the Father." You seem to think at masculinity is conveyed by the noun phrase above concerning the putative first person of the Trinity.Blosser:
Something like that. Why, I wonder, would the divine Author of Sacred Scripture have insisted on having Himself portrayed so consistently in masculine terms in relation to us, even where He so clearly includes everything that is imaged in His creatures? As Genesis 1:27 says -- "So God created man in His own image ... in the image of God creatd He him; male and female created He them" (KJV). On the one hand, I since God is in some sense humanly incomprehensible, I agree that He is beyond gender as we understand gender. On the other hand, I believe He is portrayed in masculine terms for a good reason, and that this reason has to do with something in His nature.Interlocutor:
Analogies are of limited use and I'm bad at them, but let me give a try: If puppies could talk and, in describing their human master to their young, say that he is a "doggie dad," there would be some tropological figurative truth in that statement. It wouldn't be literally true that the human master, an ordinary man, is a "doggie dad"; but it would be true in some sort of analogical sense.
But here is where I come to my point. Instead of being something LESS than a "doggie dad," wouldn't the human master be FAR MORE? Wouldn't the human master, assuming he is a human father, be far more a "daddy" than in any sense comprehensible to a doggie? That's how I picture God as "Father." Of course I can't prove that, since we're talking about the incomprehensible Holy Mighty and Immortal One here, but I think it pays due homage to the inspiration of Scripture and makes sense of biblical and Christian "God talk."
I don't want to be cornered into a position where I have to say that by calling God "Father," I'm making use of a figure of speech that has no more truth value than, say, speaking of the "Ground of Being," if you see what I mean. When I say God is our "Father," I want to be able to say that this means something not just subjectively for me but objectively about who God IS -- who He is in His relationship to us, yes, but also who He is in Himself (for He is eternally Father, just as the Son is eternally begotten of the Father, at least in my creed).
Metaphors are "as-if structures." The tropic expressions "Father" and "Mother" (when employed with reference to God) only say that God is a quasi-Father or quasi-Mother. It is as if God were a mother or father. In answer to your challenge, you won't hear me calling Jesus "mother" in corporate worship since that would violate our "liturgical" custom. But I'm sure that if any of my religious brothers or sisters heard me employing such nomenclature, they would assume that I had either gone bonkers or was speaking in a metasememic fashion.Blosser:
While pursuing my studies, I've consulted linguists, philosophers of language, cognitive scientists, literary critics and I can only proffer a stipulative definition for the term "metaphor." Much of what I've read makes sense, whereas some of it does not. But I think there are good reasons for the mass confusion vis-a-vis metaphor.
Which mass confusion?Interlocutor:
One reason is the irreducible phenomenon itself; another reason is the limited and fallible noetic structure that we all possess. There is also the problem of competing presuppositions and agendas amongst metaphor theorists. I'm sure you can think of yet other reasons linguists and philosophers have problems defining "metaphor" with any adequacy.Blosser:
Truth-conditions are what obtain when a sentence or proposition is true. For example, truth-conditionsBlosser:
>obtain for the proposition "S is F" iff "S is F."
Permit the following humble translation: "Truth-conditions mean that if something is true, then it's true. In fact, its true only if it's true. . . . Profound . . .Interlocutor:
Richard Swinburne argues that truth-conditions may obtain between complex metaphors and similes that express the same element of claim or assertion. Therefore, Swinburne contends that there is no real difference (respecting truth-conditions) between the famed metaphor "Life is a tale told by an idiot; full of sound and fury, signifying nothing" and the simile version "Life is LIKE a tale told by an idiot; full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." My contention, however, is that the same truth-conditions may also obtain between non-complex metaphors and similes, so that "God is light" and "God is like light" communicate the same truth.Blosser:
While I might be able to say the same for the Shakespearian reference, I would argue that the two statements "God is light" and "God is like light" are not reducible to the same truth. "Like" sets up a relationship of resemblance within a context of difference between God and light, whereas "God is light" does not do so in the same way. Granted, it's what we call metaphor, but I think anyone can recognize the difference in how the statement feels. Further, granted the simplicity of the divine Nature, I would argue that there's a profound if incomprehensible sense in which God is all His attributes, which would mean that light (whatever the metaphorical meaning) IS the essence of God. That's different from "like," is it not? We could say the same for "God is love," or "God is life," or "God is goodness itself." A faithful Christian would hardly want to settle for the pale admission that God is "like" goodness, would he, especially when our Lord has said that "only One is good." Just some thoughts.Interlocutor:
Moreover, one cannot forget about metaphorical entailments, wherein a set of figurative terms entail other tropic concepts (e.g. "Father" entails "Son" or suckling entails "mother" as in the Israelites feeding on the overflowing breasts of YHWH).Blosser:
I think that almost goes without saying, even though I always find that mamory reference rather bizarre out of context. These terms, like "Father" and "Son" are ineluctably relational, just like the Persons of the Trinity are essentially "relations" in St. Thomas (although that term has to be finessed more carefully than many do, to avoid the impression of impersonal abstractness).Interlocutor:
The problem I have with your "George is a teddy bear" example is that it seems to be based on what Max Black calls, "associated commonplaces" or what Aristotle refers to as ENDOXA. I could say, "Man is a wolf," and because of certain ENDOXA subsisting in a given Sitz-im-leben or koinonoetic context (i.e. shared presuppositional pool), some folks might conclude that I believe "man" is ferocious or carnivorous (in a metaphorical sense). But am I really saying anything about the inherent nature of men when I utter the claim about wolves? Am I not rather coining a metaphor based on certain ENDOXA? The same could be said for Schopenhauer's "A geometrical proof is a mousetrap."Blosser:
"Koinonoetic context" ... That takes the cake!Interlocutor:
But let's work with that a moment. Granting the existence of a "koinonoetic (hey, we're on a roll: let's add "doxastic"!) context" in which the phrase "George is a teddy bear" means something to those sharing that context, the question may be asked: Does this mean the proposition asserts nothing about George or his own nature? I think not.
The statement "Man is a wolf" differs in not being person-specific but in referring to the genus "man." Given this fact, the statement might seem to make sense only where a certain ENDOXA or koinonoetic doxastic social context subsists -- where, for example, one is dealing with gang members in the inner city slums of Los Angeles or Chicago. Perhaps the meaning is specific to these violent individuals, in this case.
Still, couldn't one also generalize and say that given the fallen nature of man, the statement also communicates something true about man's fallen nature, the "in cuvatus in se" of his wolf-like violent heart? Whether metaphor or simile, the tropological semiotic locution (how am I doin'?) could still be understood as communicating something truthful about the nature of fallen man, could it not? Perhaps there's no significant difference over this little point.
A "mind-independent" property is simply an objective characteristic that obtains whether a given subject affirms the given property or not. A mind-independent property of water, it seems, is H20; a mind-independent property of heat, on the other hand, is molecules in motion. Whose mind? The mind of a rational creaturely entity or non-rational creaturely entity. In other words, there are evidently some properties of created entities (e.g. trees, lakes, stars, planets) that would obtain even if rational subjects did not exist on earth to apprehend or perceive them.Blosser:
Oh, so you mean the objective property of a thing? Fair enough. That isn't so hard. But I do have a question. When you say that a mind-independent property of water is H2O, it sounds like you are calling the formal substance of a thing its "property." Isn't H2O WHAT water is, at least from the point of view of its chemical composition? I don't get how that's a property.Interlocutor:
That aside, I think I understand what you mean. It sounds a lot like the Lockean distinction between primary and secondary qualities of a thing -- the primary properties belonging to the thing objectively (like weight), the secondary properties belonging to the thing as perceived subjectively (like sweetness).
My family and I concur with your words here. We too refer to Jesus' Father when we utter the Pater Noster. I certainly am not referring to God as mother or Aunt Bea when I say the prayer. On the other hand, I don't think I'm praying to a heavenly masculine figure either. As for your "innocence," it is refreshing. We need more of that in today's world.Blosser:
At the risk of belaboring an earlier point, I would agree with your statement that we're not praying to "a heavenly masculine figure" only in the sense that God's Fatherhood has the property of being masculine in a sense that incomprehensably exceeds any of our pathetically girly-boy notions of what masculinity consists in. Which means, of course, that I can't help sensing when I pray to the Father what C.S. Lewis hints
at by calling a "rough male taste of reality."