Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Rhetorical Tricks of the Enemy's Trade [Pt.4b]

by Hiram R. Diaz III

II. Slippery Analogies

In addition to the misinterpretations listed in our last article on this subject, we will now look at how enemies of the Christian faith will often misinterpret analogies in order to not deal with the weight of the arguments using those literary devices. Analogies come in different forms, depending on the communicative context. Broadly speaking, we can differentiate between didactic analogies and literary analogies. Didactic analogies seek to narrow in on a shared similarity between the analogy’s source and target, for the sake of helping the reader understand the target.[1] Here is an example of a didactic analogy —
Isolating variables is like peeling an onion one layer at a time.[2]
The source of the analogy is the action of peeling an onion one layer at a time; the target is the action of isolating variables. What is similar in both cases is the action of dealing with one aspect of a problem at a time in order to reach one’s desired end, as well as the determination one must exercise in both instances.

Here is an example of a literary analogy —
My love is like the sun.
Here the similarities between the love and the sun are not clearly identifiable. The relationship is intentionally broad in order to saturate the comparison with qualitative meaning. If one’s love is like the sun, this could mean that one’s love is the object of central importance in one’s emotional well-being, or one’s source of emotional “warmth,” or central to one’s continued existence. The author is ultimately the one who can tell the reader the rules necessary for grasping his intended meaning.

Both instances of analogy are intended to help the reader understand something better. In the case of poetry/literature, the intention is to help the reader understand the qualitative nature of the target. In the case of, say, mathematics, the intention is to help the reader understand that the process of isolating variables moves by steps. Both kinds of analogies can take the form of either a simile or a metaphor. Similes use the terms “like,” “Such as,” etc. Metaphors, however, take a more emphatic approach. Metaphors are syntactically identitive (e.g. “My son is a beast!”) for the sake of drawing out the qualitative nature of the target, but are not actually identitive. Let’s look at how enemies of the faith err with respect to their interpretation of analogies.