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I is an Other

The Secret Life of Metaphor And How It Shapes The Way We See The World

By James Geary
16-minute read
I is an Other: The Secret Life of Metaphor And How It Shapes The Way We See The World by James Geary

I Is an Other demonstrates that metaphor is not just a literary tool but a fundamental way we have of discovering and making sense of the world. The author shows various ways in which metaphors are used in diverse fields, such as politics, economics, psychology, science, business and more.

  • Anyone interested in how metaphors are used by politicians and advertisers to manipulate us
  • Anyone interested in how companies and scientists can use metaphors to solve problems
  • Anyone interested in language and writing

James Geary is an American author who has written the New York Times bestseller The World in a Phrase: A Brief History of the Aphorism. He is the former Europe editor of TIME magazine.

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I is an Other

The Secret Life of Metaphor And How It Shapes The Way We See The World

By James Geary
  • Read in 16 minutes
  • Contains 10 key ideas
I is an Other: The Secret Life of Metaphor And How It Shapes The Way We See The World by James Geary
Synopsis

I Is an Other demonstrates that metaphor is not just a literary tool but a fundamental way we have of discovering and making sense of the world. The author shows various ways in which metaphors are used in diverse fields, such as politics, economics, psychology, science, business and more.

Key idea 1 of 10

Metaphor isn’t just a literary device but a way of making sense of the world.

“Life is a rollercoaster,” “America is a melting pot” and, as Shakespeare’s lovesick Romeo uttered, “Juliet is the sun.”

All of these phrases are metaphors: they describe one thing by claiming it’s the same as something else.

Even though metaphor is frequently utilized by poets like Shakespeare, its reach is far greater than just the world of literature. Metaphor is one of the main ways we have of comprehending the world around us. It occurs in our writing and speech about every 10 to 25 words, or an average of six times per minute.

Aristotle once defined metaphor as “giving the thing a name that belongs to something else.” The author widened this definition to include similes (using “like” to juxtapose two dissimilar things) and other methods of unexpected comparison.

Because metaphors allow us to describe things in other terms, they can help us explain new and unfamiliar experiences for which we don’t have names yet. For example, a teenager who’s fallen in love (a metaphor itself) for the first time may describe this exciting new experience as a breath of fresh air or even a bolt of lightning.

The truth is, metaphor is an essential tool for communicating meanings we can’t immediately grasp in many diverse and complex fields. When technological products aren’t working, we claim they “act funny” – as though they were people; meteorologists say it’s raining “cats and dogs” or that the city is in a “heat grip”; biologists use familiar images to help us understand physical concepts we cannot see ourselves, like the cell walls of plants.

So if you’re one of those people who thought they’d never use metaphor again after high school English, think again. Metaphor is an important way in which we interpret our experiences every single day.

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