The Main Role and a Deeper Understanding of Analogy

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To give a concrete answer, a deeper understanding must take place of the statement at hand. “The role of analogy is to aid understanding rather than to provide justification” can not be answered in black or white because of the philosophical nature of what is to “know” and “how do we “know”. Due to this we must inspect the nature of the keywords the statement provides meaning we must take a look at what defines an analogy, justification, as well as what it takes to understand a subject must take place.

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Before we can get into what an analogy is, we must first get into the two concepts the statement is aiming for us to decide between. Let’s take a look at understanding. To get into that, we must get into something else, the fundamentals of knowledge itself. Knowledge can be explained as justified true belief. To “know” this knowledge is to reach our own conclusion about a subject through personal interpretations and shared interpretations, interwoven by what we know as the WOK’s. Acquiring these interpretations, and consequently our conclusions, demands for the ability to comprehend/perceive the intended meaning of the communicated subject to create the judgement in the first place; known as understanding. On the other hand, justification is the ability to explain a subject with reason to back up a claim. As one may see, the two definitions oppose one another as understanding is for how to guide ourselves to knowing, and justification is defending one’s own position of something they already know.

With regard to defining analogies, it can be looked at as so: a map’s purpose is providing the user the ability to pinpoint their relative location between the terrain of which the map is mirroring, and the unknown terrain over which the user is traversing. In short, maps are “models” comparing physical reality to an artificial representation of reality. While similar in characteristics, the two entities are separate in nature; however, they are made congruent through the map serving as a “bridge” to incite familiarity. The usage of explaining the concept of a map, is in itself, my analogy to explain the essence of what an analogy is. Analogies are by definition the juxtaposition between two unrelated subjects. They are this mental “map”, bridge if you will, for comparing separate ideas. In addition, the correspondence of both is that some are more useful than others when it comes to helping our own understanding of the things that we are trying to understand. This is based off of the presenter’s accuracy in their own interpretation and thus how well they can communicate the subject, as well as oneself having some prior understanding of the situation at hand and or concepts used. Within the case of the map, a map is only as effective as the drawer’s interpretation of that landscape and the WOKs of language and imagination to express them. Whereas the user of the map must have some knowledge of the shapes used to represent landscapes which requires the WOK intuition as well as sense perception and imagination to visualize the scaling of the map to the real world. Finally, the WOK reasoning is the main component for the user in which they must deduce based off of the several previous components that it is to be true. Analogies require the same process in which the communicator of the analogy must use language and imagination to describe to someone a scenario that they must use their own imagination to connect the dots and use reasoning for a conclusion.

Consequently from the aforementioned explanations, we now have agreed upon definitions/apprehensions for the concepts of the question, ergo we can get into answering the fundamentals; what role an analogy serves. Getting back to the previous example of maps to analogies, the role is two-fold depending on what perspective it is looked at. Assuming a scenario that the viewer of this essay has no previous knowledge of an analogy but is familiar with a map, the comparison of the two helped draw a connection for the reader, therefore aiding their understanding of how an analogy works by showing another familiar concept’s likeliness. Due to them not having any prior judgements of analogies as it is their first time learning it, justification isn’t present on their behalf because they aren’t defending anything. The analogy is purely to aid their understanding of an analogy.

Conversely, if it was an argument stating “analogies are the maps of the mind” and there is a conflicting viewpoint, my comparison of physical maps to analogies would be an inductive argument. An inductive argument through analogy is used for supporting a stance whether or not the conclusion is wrong, through comparing two similar but unrelated things in order to get the opposition to understand their reasoning and maybe even get them to side with them. The effectiveness of this can vary depending on two factors: the amount of similarities and the relevance of the shared features to the conclusion. If A and B have several things in common with one another despite them being different, the validity for your argument grows. Furthermore, if these similarities don’t correspond well with the topic at hand they lose their meaning thus the argument is more likely to be weak. For this example, the role of analogy was justification, however, the justification of this perspective required them to also “understand” our side of the argument so it can be argued both ways.

In the AOKs we see this form of justification through analogies in the Natural Sciences. The possibility of life on Europa, specifically, is an example of comparisons of two unrelated things to back up the claim. Recently, it was found that Europa contains water underneath its surface as well as an atmosphere containing an extent of oxygen. The assumption being made here is that Europa is similar to Earth due to the fact that oxygen and water are building blocks for life here on earth, thus life might exist on Europa as well because it holds these things as well. The “fact to value” distinction here is skeptical, however, the resemblance of the two provides reason enough to argue the claim. The primary methodological principle of Natural Sciences consists of discoveries of relationships through comparison for evidence which is why inductive reasoning through analogy holds its roots within the AOK. An additional example of this in Natural Sciences is the demonstration of how the expansion of the universe and its galaxies is justified by being likened to a balloon with dots on it and it being inflated. The balloon and the universe are two very different things although it is reasoned that as the universe expands, the galaxies move farther away from each other similar to how the dots move away from each other as the balloon is aerated. In order for this justification of the balloon, it is also helping us understand the nature of the expansion of the universe as well. An example of it being “understood” is in a science classroom that is teaching the students of the phenomenon.

Subsequently, the AOK of Arts can also use analogies. The film Forrest Gump contains the analogy “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get”. The correspondence of the two contrasting things and explaining their relation is what makes it an effective tool for understanding. This is due to it stressing the concept of the randomness of life and equating it to the element of surprise when opening a box of chocolates for the viewer of the movie to understand the regard to the outcomes of our decisions albeit good or bad. There is no justification here as it is strictly for understanding the idea and not for the providing reason for something it is asserting. History is another AOK much like this in which appeasement during World War 2 can be taught, as it was in my history class, through the use of the book To Give A Mouse A Cookie. The domino effect of Germany’s “wants” during this period is nearly indistinguishable to the “wants” of the mouse in the book, hence, the analogy that can be developed for interpreting the knowledge of the event.

So are analogies purely for aiding understanding rather than justification? From weighing the previously stated examples in the AOKs, analogies are a useful tool that can be used for both. The variety of its utilization differs from case to case meaning its inherent value is high, however, even through means of justification, it does in fact show to elucidate a topic nonetheless. Having this as a result, the extent to which I agree with the prescribed title is that it leans in favor of the role of analogies being for aiding understanding, subsequently, my answer to the question is to a high extent. The implications of knowing this is for the benefit of acquiring knowledge and or defending your thesis in a way that will enlighten others as to why that view makes sense which can be in one’s favor such as in a debate or constructive essay. Either way boosting your own personal knowledge as well as the shared knowledge amongst the community.

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