In this article I would like to focus on how we try to discern a metaphor. I would like to focus on the cognitional faculty associated with metaphors. Discerning a metaphor can be aesthetic, religious, secular, cultural-historical and philosophical.
A metaphor in common day language is an adornment of words where there occurs a comparison between things. For example: His thoughts are a flying saucer. It means that his thoughts are fanciful and unrealistic. This metaphor has only one effect on the reader which is a pure aesthetic one, one of pleasure.

Let’s look at another example: He is a shady night. Here the metaphor embodies a semantic concept, meaning that he is not a straight forward person. This semantic attribute is related to a particular emotional quality and there by casting its roots into the soil of judging human qualities.
But some metaphors go beyond the aesthetic. Let’s take a Biblical metaphor which is also simile: ‘You should have faith as a mustard seed’. A simile is also related to the metaphor and uses like or as. Here mustard seed takes a meaning of the supra-sensible realm, beyond the aesthetic. Faith becomes dichotomized into smallness and reliance on the super-natural. We can utilize its meaning in the secular sense as the tininess of faith for obtainment of a thing or with a religious tinge, having faith as small as a mustard seed and relying faith on a transcendental power. The hermeneutic meaning is left to the discernment of the reader.
Next I would like to take an example of a metaphor having political and historical connotations. For example: Fascism and Nazism have become religious entities of fanatic Islam in the contemporary geo-political world. Here the meaning becomes a thesis (far- right dictatorships), an antithesis (unfair barbarism and cruelty and the holocaust) and synthesis (the aim of fanatic Islam to create terrorism and also dominate the world). I am using Hegelian Philosophy here. The meaning of this metaphor bifurcates into cultural, political and historic roots and brings up a daunting similarity with the contemporary comparison.
Next I would like to analyze a metaphor from feminist philosophy. For example: We or they are gender twins. This refers to woman who does not like to be labeled as she or he. Being gender neutral and the same time having a gender is an accepted norm of conceptual democratic post-modern philosophy.

Thus in my readings of the metaphor, I have left its discernment as aesthetics, as the religious, as the semantic, as the secular, as the historical, cultural and the political and also the philosophical.


Analysis of Ricoeur’s Rule of the Metaphor

Ricoeur traces the evolution of the metaphor from Hellenic Greece. He mentions Aristotle as the founding father of the metaphor. In Greece, the metaphor was used in poetry, especially tragic poetry. The metaphor was a general part of rhetoric. Metaphor according to Ricoeur functioned as an ornament of language. Metaphor went through a lot of changes during various historical epochs.
In the Hellenic period, metaphor was a vehicle to pay libation to the Gods. This is evident in Homeric hymns like the Iliad and the Odyssey. The metaphor was sheer poetry. The aesthetics of the metaphor was religious and allegorical. Thus we have Plato’s famous metaphor the cave which explains the theory of forms. People were in dark cave which was enclosed by a wall and they could see light outside. For Plato it meant that there was an ideal world beyond the physical world. Forms formed the ideality of the world
During the Renaissance era: metaphor underwent a transition. Metaphor became associated with the philosophy of romance. Thus we have the courtly love of the troubadours. Poets used metaphors to sanctify romantic love. Metaphor became a sensual earthly vehicle of salaciousness. Thus we have a famous verse which says: flow abundant stream into my loins and saturate me to a cathartic ecstasy.
In the modern and postmodern period metaphor underwent drastic changes. Metaphor became a discourse of ideology. Metaphor became rooted in disciplines like semantics, sociology, psychology, philosophy and psychiatry.
In Sociology we have Alvin Toffler’s famous work: The Third Wave where he characterizes civilization as metaphor of waves. The first wave was the agricultural civilization. The second wave was the industrial civilization and third wave was the technological society. For Toffler these waves are still evolving.
Let’s look at the role of the metaphor in postmodern philosophy. Post modern philosophy is characterized by the writing of metaphors. Texts are centers of privilege and marginalization. Postmodernism dissects texts and opens centers to play of meaning. Being is a metaphor for becoming. The white theology of the world became dissected into a metaphor of nihilism and nullification. Speech is Adam and Eve in innocence writing is the fleshy tree of good and evil; writing is sin. Being contextualizes into an ontological structure of consciousness. For postmodernism the Diaspora of the mind is left in the exile of the desert. Values fragment into a nihilism of chaotic anarchy.
In psychoanalysis dream symbols are metaphoric. Jacques Lacan said that all dreams are manifested in language. We have Roman Jacobson who analyzed the metaphor and the metonymy. According to Freud a dream can mean condensation or displacement. A condensed dream is the manifestation of reality facing the dream. Displacement in dreams is an escapism from reality. For Jacques Lacan the psychoanalyst: metaphor was condensation and is on the paradigmatic axis. Metonymy on the other hand was displacement and on the syntagmatic axis.


Seed and Fruit

The Seed and the Fruit are metaphors of pulchritude found only in the Bible. It’s on these two metaphors that God established the foundations of his Kingdom. The Seed is the Word of God and the Fruit the outcome that is redemption, salvation and eternal life. Reading the Word is strengthening our life in Christ. Great is our reward kept for us in heaven.


Museaphors are examples of a new species of metaphors. A metaphor is created called a primary metaphor and then from it a secondary metaphor is created.

Examples of Museaphors

Her pubis was a dark night. The dark night enveloped his life’s misery.

Palestine is a hot volcano. She too is a hot volcano.

Making love was paradise for them. His paradise is a bottle of scotch.

While making love, they blossomed into a flower. Reading fiction was a blossoming flower for him.

Time became a hyperbole of smoking weed. Weed is the essence of an epiphany in his life.

His dreams are soaked in a watery apparition. When he hallucinates on weed, he becomes a watery apparition.

He wakes with the art of an erection. The art of erecting language is possible as a hyperbole.


Muse(a)phors are derived from Pataphors. A pataphor has a metaphor primarily and a sentence sequence as the secondary. For example: The Books are sleeping. She is also sleeping. The first is a part is a metaphor and the second one a sentence. A museaphor has a primary metaphor and from it a secondary one. For eg. Palestine is a volcano. She is a Volcano. The first part describes Palestine’s volatile political situation and the second part describes a woman who is sexually hot. Thus Muse(a)phors are a new species of the metaphor.