For the metaphors

I make use of a lot of analogies, for instance ‘like dancing’ and ‘the ice skating thing’ are particular phenomena I often think about, and I get value from thinking about meta-ethics as if it were romance, or saving the world as if it were a party. I wonder if providing a variety of concrete experiences that other things might be analogized to is a big source of value from doing new things.

For instance, recently I took up knitting and I think there are things about it that my other experiences don’t have. For instance, I got some knitting patterns, and they have this very brief and utilitarian jargon, and a bunch of concepts, and I got a sense of this rich world of actionable and actioned knowledge about how to do a concrete thing, with much doing of it, which is pretty unlike other things I engage in, I am sorry to say. 

I was also struck by the experience of being able to take a relatively simple substance (wool) and turn it into a useful object of the kind one buys in a store (a hat, or it seems like it will be a hat). 

These things are of course what I expect in the abstract, but it is something else to experience things.

I’m not sure how these new experiences compare to the value I have had so far from the activity of knitting, but it seems like much more than the value of a generic hat, and I only have maybe a quarter of one of those.

My current guess is that filling out my repertoire of concrete intuitions about specific kinds of occurrences or relationships between things is pretty helpful.

2 responses to “For the metaphors

  1. Reminds me of the cheese and the worms, a book about a heretic who created a cosmology based analogy to his experience.

    ‘Menocchio said: “I have said that, in my opinion, all was chaos, that is, earth, air, water, and fire were mixed together; and out of that bulk a mass formed – just as cheese is made out of milk – and worms appeared in it, and these were the angels.’

  2. Certainly concrete intuitions are useful in the way you describe, but I think an additional source of value is in regularly *developing* new concrete intuitions. If you’re learning something new relatively intensively then your new intuitions will be even more salient and there’s an additional openness to relations and connections that seem much more readily available as a newcomer to something too.

    I’ve gotten a lot out of rock climbing in the way you seem to have done the same with knitting.


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