Monday, August 29, 2005

Volokh's paradox redacted:
I had written:
Volokh's paradox:
Metaphors are falsehoods. If they were literally true, they wouldn’t be metaphors.
That's a metaphor, isn't it?

Volokh responds
Unless there's either a deep joke or a deep linguistic point I'm
missing, I think the answer is "no.'

The authorities seem to bear out his position, and I have learned not to challenge him as to matters of fact within his areas of expertize. So I will no longer call this Volokh's Paradox.
As a matter of my own usage and opinion, a statement can be literally true, but be like a metaphor when it presents an odd juxtaposition, a counter-intuitive way of thinking about things, and I would call that a metaphor, but your english teacher wouldn't. I'm not coming up with good examples. "If a Republican is an elephant, a Democrat is an ass." True in a sense, but arguably a metaphor. I've mixed metaphors there, and should have chosen a cleaner example. "A Democrat is a donkey" is a metaphor in the general sense, but contains a metaphor in my sense, a Democrat is a jerk. Not that all Democrats are jerks, I was looking for an example.
A simile is like a metaphor; a metaphor is a simile.
Aha - A metaphor is false, by definition, yet it contains a deeper truth.
"An apple is a volcano" is not a metaphor, or at least it is one I would need explained; it's just a mistake, or here a deliberately false statement.
"An orange is a golden apple of the sun" is a metaphor; it's a reasonable way to describe an orange to someone who doesn't know what oranges are but knows apples.
Volokh has argued, I believe, that the freedom of speech does not protect false statements, or at least knowingly false statements.
For a moment I thought I found a flaw in that argument, but I think we would both agree if a statement is false in one sense, but true in another, that is protected by the freedom of speech.

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