Education Extended writing Framing Knowledge Metaphor

Explanation is an event, understanding is a process: How (not) to explain anything with metaphor

TL;DR There are at least 3 uses of metaphor in the educational process: 1. Invitation to enter; 2. An instrument to grasp knowledge with; 3. Catalyst to transform understanding. Many educators assume that 1 is enough but it rarely leads to any useful understanding. Explanation is a salient part of the educational process to such […]

Extended writing Linguistics Philosophy of Science Scholarship

What would make linguistics a better science? Science as a metaphor

Background This is a lightly edited version of a comment posted on Martin Haspelmath’s blog post “Against traditional grammar – and for normal science in linguistics“.  In it he offers a critique of the current linguistic scene as being unclear as to its goals and in need of better definitions. He proposes ‘normal science’ as […]

Extended writing Metaphor Philosophy of Science

Cats and butterflies: 2 misunderstood analogies in scientistic discourse

Butterfly effect and Schrödinger’s cat are 2 very common ways of signalling one’s belonging to the class of the scientifically literate. But they are almost always told wrong. They were both constructed as illustrations of paradoxes or counterintuitive findings in science. Their retelling always misses the crucial ‘as if’. This is an example of metaphor […]

Extended writing Knowledge Linguistics Metaphor

3 burning issues in the study of metaphor

I’m not sure how ‘burning’ these issues are as such but if they’re not, I’d propose that they deserve to have some kindling or other accelerant thrown on them. 1. What is the interaction between automatic metaphor processing and deliberate metaphor application? Metaphors have always been an attractive subjects of study. But they have seen […]

AI Extended writing

3 “easy” things that are hard for both humans and AI

Everybody is agog at what AI systems can do. Nobody thought even 10 years ago that machines could be trained to recognise images or transcribe natural speech as well as they do now. And because of this leap forward everybody has started worrying about AI taking over the world because it will soon be able […]

Extended writing Metaphor

Innovation is bad for business: 3 more ‘I’ words to compare innovation to

Innovation is the ‘in’ thing. Innovate or die is the buzz up and down the hive mind. Everybody is feeling like they must innovate all of the things all of the time. But is the incessant innovation the right mode of approaching this? We constantly spin up stories of the intrepid innovator and the change […]

AI Extended writing Framing Linguistics

Does machine learning produce mental representations?

TL;DR Why is this important? Many people believe that mental representations are the next goal for ML and a prerequisite for AGI. Does machine learning produce mental representations equivalent to human ones in kind (if not in quality or quantity)? Definitely not, and there is no clear pathway from current approaches to a place where […]

Extended writing Framing Language Linguistics Metaphor

Not ships in the night: Metaphor and simile as process

In some circles (rhetoric and analytics philosophy come to mind), much is made of the difference between metaphor and simile. (Rhetoricians pay attention to it because they like taxonomies of communicative devices and analytic philosophers spend time on it because of their commitment to a truth-theoretical account of meaning and naive assumptions about compositionality). It […]

Extended writing Metaphor Philosophy

Therapy for Frege: A brief outline of the theory of everything

Frege’s trauma I found the following quote from Frege on the Language goes on holiday blog and it struck as the perfect starting point for this essay which has been written for a while now: “Frege (“Logic in Mathematics”): Definitions proper must be distinguished from elucidations [Erläuterungen]. In the first stages of any discipline we […]

Extended writing Framing Language Linguistics Scholarship

How to read ‘Women, Fire and Dangerous Things’: Guide to essential reading on human cognition

Note: These are rough notes for a metaphor reading group, not a continuous narrative. Any comments, corrections or elaborations are welcome. Why should you read WFDT? Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal About the Mind is still a significantly underappreciated and (despite its high citation count) not-enough-read book that has a lot to […]