“"Ricoeur begins his discussion of metaphor by returning to Aristotle, who had already discussed metaphor in his Poetics and his book on rhetoric. Aristotle considered rhetoric and poetic discourse — even given their use of metaphor and other figurative forms — to overlap logic because of the appeal to some form of argumentation they both include. This emphasis on argument is important because rhetorical argument introduces the idea of creativity (in the sense of finding a persuasive argument) as well as drawing on the idea of proof. Poetry, too, is creative, but unlike logic 'does not seek to prove anything at all: its project is mimetic; its aim… is to compose an essential representation of human actions'(RM,13).¹ Metaphor, as a form of semantic innovation, plays a role both in rhetoric, considered as a theory of argumentation, and in poetry and drama like the Greek tragedies, which Aristotle held are actually truer than history because they show us not so much how things are but how they must be. In both uses of language, metaphor works with already existing language into which it introduces a 'twist' or derivation that makes it say something new; hence the semantic innovation in metaphor itself depends on the use of language, on discourse as Ricoeur defines it. This transgressive or transformative aspect of metaphor is what makes it capable of creating new meaning by disturbing the existing logical order at the same time that it begets it in a new form. It does so, as Aristotle had already recognized, because it makes us 'see' things differently, not by imitating them in the sense of producing a copy but by redescribing them. This is why metaphor has a referential and ultimately an ontological as well as a creative function (Pellauer 2007:67).
2007 Ricoeur: A Guide for the Perplexed. New York: Continuum.
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