Saturday, May 07, 2005


“The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor. It is the one thing that cannot be learned from others; it is also a sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies an eye for resemblance.”

Aristotle, De Poetica

“It is this way with all of us concerning language: we believe that we know something about the things themselves when we speak of trees, colors, snow, and flowers; and yet we possess nothing but metaphors for things — metaphors which correspond in no way to the original entities. In the same way that the sound appears as a sand figure, so the mysterious X of the thing in itself first appears as a nerve stimulus, then as an image, and finally as a sound. Thus the genesis of language does not proceed logically in any case, and all the material within and with which the man of truth, the scientist, and the philosopher later work and build, if not derived from never-never land,” is at least not derived from the essence of things. […] What then is truth? A movable host of metaphors, metonymies, and anthropomorphisms: in short, a sum of human relations which have been poetically and rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seem to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding. Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions; they are metaphors that have become worn out and have been drained of sensuous force, coins which have lost their embossing and are now considered as metal and no longer as coins. […]Everything which distinguishes man from the animals depends upon this ability to volatilize perceptual metaphors in a schema, and thus to dissolve an image into a concept. For something is possible in the realm of these schemata which could never be achieved with the vivid first impressions: the construction of a pyramidal order according to castes and degrees, the creation of a new world of laws, privileges, subordinations, and clearly marked boundaries — a new world, one which now confronts that other vivid world of first impressions as more solid, more universal, better known, and more human than the immediately perceived world, and thus as the regulative and imperative world.[…] Whereas each perceptual metaphor is individual and without equals and is therefore able to elude all classification, the great edifice of concepts displays the rigid regularity of a Roman columbarium and exhales in logic that strength and coolness which is characteristic of mathematics. Anyone who has felt this cool breath [of logic] will hardly believe that even the concept — which is as bony, foursquare, and transposable as a die — is nevertheless merely the residue of a metaphor, and that the illusion which is involved in the artistic transference of a nerve stimulus into images is, if not the mother, then the grandmother of every single concept. But in this conceptual crap game “truth” means using every die in the designated manner, counting its spots accurately, fashioning the right categories, and never violating the order of caste and class rank. Just as the Romans and Etruscans cut up the heavens with rigid mathematical lines and confined a god within each of the spaces thereby delimited, as within a templum, so every people has a similarly mathematically divided conceptual heaven above themselves and henceforth thinks that truth demands that each conceptual god be sought only within his own sphere. […] If I make up the definition of a mammal, and then, after inspecting a camel, declare “look, a mammal,” I have indeed brought a truth to light in this way, but it is a truth of limited value. That is to say, it is a thoroughly anthropomorphic truth which contains not a single point which would be “true in itself” or really and universally valid apart from man. At bottom, what the investigator of such truths is seeking is only the metamorphosis of the world into man. He strives to understand the world as something analogous to man, and at best he achieves by his struggles the feeling of assimilation. Similar to the way in which astrologers considered the stars to be in man’s service and connected with his happiness and sorrow, such an investigator considers the entire universe in connection with man: the entire universe as the infinitely fractured echo of one original sound — man; the entire universe as the infinitely multiplied copy of one original picture — man. His method is to treat man as the measure of all things, but in doing so he again proceeds from the error of believing that he has these things [which he intends to measure] immediately before him as mere objects. He forgets that the original perceptual metaphors are metaphors and takes them to be the things themselves. […] Only by forgetting this primitive world of metaphor can one live with any repose, security, and consistency. […]In conjunction with this it of course follows that the artistic process of metaphor formation with which every sensation begins in us already presupposes these forms and thus occurs within them. The only way in which the possibility of subsequently constructing a new conceptual edifice from metaphors themselves can be explained is by the firm persistence of these original forms. That is to say, this conceptual edifice is an imitation of temporal, spatial, and numerical relationships in the domain of metaphor. […]That immense framework and planking of concepts to which the needy man clings his whole life long in order to preserve himself is nothing but a scaffolding and toy for the most audacious feats of the liberated intellect. And when it smashes this framework to pieces, throws it into confusion, and puts it back together in an ironic fashion, pairing the most alien things and separating the closest, it is demonstrating that it has no need of these makeshifts of indigence and that it will now be guided by intuitions rather than by concepts. There is no regular path which leads from these intuitions into the land of ghostly schemata, the land of abstractions. There exists no word for these intuitions; when man sees them he grows dumb, or else he speaks only in forbidden metaphors and in unheard-of combinations of concepts. He does this so that by shattering and mocking the old conceptual barriers he may at least correspond creatively to the impression of the powerful present intuition.”

Friedrich Nietzsche, “On Truth and Lie in an Extra-moral Sense”


This paper will try to show how the productive imagination, as axe of multidimensional thinking, generates living metaphors. Living metaphors keep utopias alive, thus allowing for a future of non crystallized (death) possibilities.

Following Richard Rorty's assumptions about language and philosophy , this paper proposes to work on the existent tradition about imagination and metaphor from Paul Ricoeur’s perspective, but associating image with language and not with perception.

Multidimensional thinking has the imagination and the metaphor as important axes and with them, the capacity of the imagination and the metaphor to extend its action into praxis. Imagination and metaphor are not only part of creative thinking, but also part of caring and critical thinking. It means imagination and metaphor are part of multidimensional thinking taken as a whole. We are thinking here about the theory of multidimensional thinking. However, we are interested to ask what is a theory’s capacity to extend itself into practice. Could the imagination act in the practical sphere? The practical sphere is a place beyond the discourse (a sphere in which, originally, imagination seems to have its own, proper place). What would be this passage from theory to action like?

The space of variation of theories of imagination could be sized using two axes. On the noematic side (the object for consciousness, Husserl), we have the axes of the presence and the absence. On the noetic side (the subject who gives meaning and provides the object as meaningful for consciousness), the axes of the fascinated conscience and the critical conscience. In one extreme of the first axe the image is only a debilitated presence of what is perceived (Hume). It is the case of the merely reproductive imagination. In the other extreme of the axe, the image is that which is not present (e.g., portrait, dream, and fiction). This is the case of the productive imagination.

In the case of the second axe, if the image is confused with the real (i.e. to take the image as the real itself), the critical conscience is null. On the other extreme of the axe, the imagination is an instrument for criticizing reality. (An example of which could be the transcendental reduction in Husserl, a concept in which we can see the neutralization of the real).

All of the above could be represented with the following schema:

Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to develop the relationships among imagination, metaphor and P4C.

Semantic innovation

In the theory of metaphor the semantic innovation appears as a characteristic of the metaphoric use of the language. Semantic innovation is an instant creation because of attribution of unusual predicates. The point of view of not associating image to perception allows for a radical change, since the image is not longer considered as “appendix of the perception, a shadow of perception”.

Ricoeur presents a referential pretension of the fiction and the imagination, which has been tampered by several prejudices, (e.g. that the image is only a part of our mind that copies something, or that the image is only a copy (replica) of reality, as shown in the schema above).

Against the prejudice of the image as a thing in the mind, we should take into account that image has a peculiar intentionality, because it offers a model to perceive things in a different way. Against the prejudice of the image as a copy: the image does not refer to reality to copy it but to perceive a new reading. This is the refiguring pretension of imagination. Therefore, fiction re-organizes the world and generates new features and new outlines for the experience.


Semantic innovation has two forms: metaphor and invention of intrigues. In the latter, we have the introduction of an intelligible order in a sequence of events, establishing a configuring act in the story, a synthesis of the heterogeneous. All of this is the work of the productive imagination. Metaphor, on the other hand, implies a semantic innovation by predicative assimilation (in the same way that intrigue implies a semantic innovation by gathering multiple elements). Therefore, we have the production of a new pertinence in the predication by an attribution that, primarily, was not pertinent. In this way meanings that were distant get close to each other. Instauration of similarity among remote elements is established, and because of this, these remote terms appear now as near terms. As it happens with the intrigue, this operation is also a construction of productive imagination.


Ricoeur argues that our images are spoken even before being seen. Several prejudices are challenged with this thesis: images are neither things in our mind nor a copy of reality. However, what is the relationship between images and reality? In looking for an answer to this question, it would be interesting to analyze the functioning of the metaphor, to trace “a brief profile of a solution model”.

Metaphor proceeds from the tension between the terms of a metaphorical enunciation. We are in front of an abnormal use of the predicates in the framework of the whole phrase , not just an abnormal use of the substantives. Metaphor is not the transposition of a strange name, but the conflict between two interpretations of a same enunciation. For this reason, Ricoeur talks about a “metaphorical enunciation” and not about substantives used in e metaphorical way. Therefore, metaphor implies a semantic action of the word.

The appropriate medium to the production of a collision (crash?) between semantics fields is the predicative non-pertinence: the new predicative pertinence that is produced is the metaphor. This new reality, produced at the level of the complete phrase, produces an extension of meaning at the level of an isolated word. Therefore, the re- structuring of the semantic fields is produced as a displacement of the attention, from the problems of the change of meaning at the level of the denomination to the level of the predicative use.

Over the ruins of the literal predication a new meaning emerges, and it is at the moment of the emergence when the imagination mediates: semantically different fields approach, producing the collision that provokes the metaphor. We can create meaning through a verbal torsion there, where the literal interpretation makes no sense. Imagination is a way to construct pertinence in the impertinence. In the tension (opposed to the substitution) a new meaning emerges that concerns with the total enunciate. In this way, to imagine is, above all, to re-structure semantic fields. Metaphor is always the active resolution of an enigma, of a semantic dissonance: there is no living metaphor in the dictionary.

Finally, the image suspends the meaning in the fiction. Imagination is a free game of possibilities, in a state of non compromise neither with the world of the perception nor with the world of the action. We thus prove new ideas, new ways to be in the world. The whole process shows us that we first understand the images, and only afterwards we see them. Hence, the tension metaphors (true metaphors) are non translatable, because they create meaning. Their paraphrase is infinite and they never exhaust the innovation of meaning.

Then, in the metaphor, semantic innovation has three characteristics:

1. Non literary pertinence : a new meaning emerges, however the non convenience of the extravagant predication must continue to be perceived
2. The new predicative pertinence emerges, sustaining itself on the impertinent predication. It an established similarity (resemblance), more than a perceived similarity. Suddenly (in a “now” of the re figuration) terms that are far away in the logical space appear to be close together and
3. A verbal torsion, which evokes the extension of meaning to the isolated words.

The semantic innovation is properly constituted in the second feature. The established similarity is provoked by the productive imagination that allows to “see as” thanks to its synthetic, rules-generating function. Hence, imagination schematizes the new semantic pertinence.

Schema is, for Kant, the representation of a process of imagination that allows attaching an image to a concept. On the other hand, Ricoeur thinks that it is a rule that allows something to be seen as something. Therefore, image is not a weakened perception but, by assimilating itself to an emergent meaning it gives support to that meaning. Productive imagination is not the faculty to derivate images of the sensorial experience, but to make new meanings emerge, which are feed by the image. A new referential mention emerges, a new intention, which is the reverse of the abolition of reference that there was in the literal meaning.

To say that the images are spoken before viewed is to pose imagination as a language dimension, a capacity to allow appearing, not just a faculty to derivate images from the sensorial experience. Imagination produces new configurations, and we can see the image when we understand these configurations of meaning. The image is an aspect of the semantic innovation that takes place in the language. Hence imagination is present both in the metaphor and in the intrigue, and this allows us to view things in a different way.

As said above, in the metaphor the imagination produces mediation, a support for the emergence of a new meaning. This new meaning emerges beyond the literal predication. Metaphor is not simply a way to give one thing the name of another, as Aristotle said in Poetic. Metaphor is not a deviated use of names, but a deviated use of predicates in the framework of the whole phrase. The “view as” of the metaphor relates an empty concept with a blind intuition. Therefore, language has an imaginative function, that permits to link verbal with non verbal, doing the re-structuring of semantic fields: the “view as” has the role of the Kantian schema, because it relates the light of the meaning with the plenitude of the image.

Metaphor has the peculiarity that the metaphorical “is” is accompanied by an “is not”. Tension is maintained. When we say that “time is a cave of thieves”, we know that time is not a cave of thieves. We are transgressors of meaning frontiers, but we are not eliminating them.

We can find three features of imagination in its relationship with metaphor:

1. Schematization: Schematism is not the image, but a procedure or representation. We therefore speak of “procedures of imagination” to obtain images that can be a support for the semantic innovation. Hence, imagination is a generative matrix of rules, because of which we can view something as something, for example, I can see my cat sited still and alert, like a Bastet´s statue.
2. Resonance: in the process of schematizing the new metaphorical predication, the imagination reactivates past experiences, giving new life to adjacent sensorial fields. Imagination, in an phenomenon of echo or reverberation, expands in all directions, arousing a complex of new images, and not simply a single image.
3. Non-compromise: Images have an effect of neutralization of reality which allows play with possibilities.

Thus, metaphor says something about reality, because with the suspension of reference (that is inherent to descriptive language) appears a more radical power of reference to aspects of our being-in-the-world, which cannot to be said directly. On the ruins of the literal meaning, the metaphorical enunciate mentions these aspects in an indirect way. Over these ruins emerges the new semantic pertinence that the metaphor establishes, provoking a new referential mention. A thesis can be deduced: the metaphor builds proximity between meanings that are far away from each other, and to this fit proximity between the things themselves. It means that to the metaphorizacion of the meaning corresponds the metaphorizacion of the reference. Furthermore, poetic discourse does an epoché of the descriptive reference and puts into play fictions by which it intentionalizes the reality by the way of the re-description.

Thus, poetic texts speak to us about the world, but not in a descriptive way. To invent and to discover are not opposed, because at the same time that the metaphor creates something, it discovers it, and that which is found by the metaphor is the metaphor’s own invention. By the metaphorical re-description, the pretension of truth of the metaphor does not identify the notion of truth with the experience of objects that can be described.

The metaphor is the semantic nucleus of the symbol. The metaphor arises in the universe of logos, but the symbol arises along the boundaries of logos and bios (meaning and force, discourse and action). However, since the sentiment amalgams language and it is a carnal relationship with the world, the poet feels in debt with something that can never be expressed in its totally. This debt leaves a trace (tread) in the metaphor (in the sense that F. Simiand gave to the concept trace (tread). ) which turns the metaphor into a symbol.

The concepts above could be summarized as follows:



IMAGE as copy of reality IMAGE as epoché of reality
Imagination as production
Semantic innovation
Intrigue on stage:
Re-configuration Metaphor: predicative assimilation
Creation of pertinence in the impertinence

Non compromise with perception
Transgression of boundaries of meaning Suspension of reference
Metaphorization of meaning Metaphorization of reference
Pretension of truth of metaphor
Rediscovering of the world

The story (the narrative)

While metaphorical reference allows us to rediscover the world, the story has a function of reconfiguration of the world. We find semantic innovation in both metaphor and narrative fiction and in the “iconic increase (rise) of the world” (Ricoeur elaborates this concept because it alludes to the painter strategy, who reconstitutes the reality on an alphabet of lines and colors). While the original perception eliminates the contrasts, the icon allows for an articulation that reconstructs the reality. Thus, we can view something new which we had not seen before – and therefore an iconic rise is produced.

The story is also a form of semantic innovation: the stage-on-intrigue (misce-en-intrigue) that characterizes the story does a triple mediation:

1. between the coincident events of the story and the story as a whole: from a simple succession of incidents the story extracts a configuration, an intelligible totality
2. among the facts of the conceptual net of the action (agent, motives, ends)
3. between two temporal dimensions of the story, a chronological dimension of the episodes and a non chronological dimension (or configuring dimension), because of which the events become a story

All stage-on-intrigue (misce-en-intrigue) implies a semantic innovation, and this remits us to the works of the productive imagination: there is a schematism of the narrative function that mediates between the meaningful totality and the intuitive presentation of the episodes. This schematism offers a typology that shows imagination as a generative matrix of rules. There are rules that orientate the experience, that are born from innovations and are subdued to a sedimentation process. A sedimentation takes place which concerns not only to the form of discordant concordance between the story as a whole and the incidents, but also to the genus and types of organization. Thus, form, genus and types are born from the works of the productive imagination. In this work there is dialectic of the innovation and of the sedimentation: singular works are produced (innovation) but the innovation is subdued to rules (because imagination relies on the paradigms of tradition). Deviations about the types and the genus can occur but not about the concordance/discordance. Thus, imagination, as generative matrix, produces the rules of form, genus and types.

If we compare the schema in Kant and in Ricoeur, we can see the following:

1. From the point of view of the mediation, the schema is for Kant a third mediating element between the intuition and the categories. For Ricoeur, schema is a mediating element between the thought meaning (theme) and the episodes that are represented intuitively.
2. From the point of view of the temporal determination, Kant refers to a determination of time according to some rules, and Ricoeur refers to a determination of the narrative time, between the chronology of the episodes and the a-chronology of the theme.
3. From the point of view of the imagination, Kant refers to the representation of a general procedure of the imagination to provide an image to a concept and Ricoeur refers to the representation of a general procedure of the imagination that allows organizing the intrigue.

Imagination in the action

Imagination and the individual action

Analogical imagination operates from the transformation of meaning among lived bodies to the superior grades of the communities. In the community there is not a supplementary entity; instead the reciprocity among subjects is postulated. There is not hypostatization of collectivity entities, because the personalities of higher order are a conjunct of interactions among subjects. We can clearly see here the critique to the reification of collective relationships.

All social communities are understood by analogy with my own personal acts. Analogy is the transcendental principle for the understanding of all inter-subjective relationships, and it is valid not only for our contemporaries, but also it is extended to our predecessors and our successors (not only who I know, but also who I don’t know are egos like me). Productive imagination preserves this analogy of the ego by transferring the meaning “ego” to the alter ego (you and he/she). The analogy means that all others are egos as I am, and, same as me, they can imputes (attributes) their experience. The analogical link that does all human being my similar are accessible to us only through imaginative practices like ideology and utopia.

The first necessary condition for the application of a theory of imagination outside the sphere of the discourse is that the semantic innovation can have, inside the boundaries of the metaphorical enunciation, a referential force, this is: that the metaphor tells something about the reality. One of the questions that arises is: does the metaphorical enunciate have, in addition to a meaning, a reference? The neutralizing function of imagination, as presented above, about the thesis of the world is a negative condition to liberate a second order referential force : not only the meaning is unfolded by the metaphorical process, but also the reference itself. Thus, the reference of the ordinary discourse is abolished (applied to objects that correspond to our interest for control and manipulation). With the suspension of this interest, the poetic discourse no longer expresses the second degree reference, which is the primordial reference.

This kind of thesis could be interesting to the theory of imagination: fiction has a double with respect to the reference, it goes beyond it, towards a non-place about all reality , and because of this it can point indirectly to that reality according to a new “effect of reference”. Imagination is the power of fiction to re-describe reality. Above the suspension of our belief in a preceding (anterior) description the heuristic force of fiction lifts up, with its capacity to open and unfolds new dimensions of the reality. Against the philosophical tradition that speaks about image as a weakened perception, arises fiction that nullifies perception, thus conditioning an increase in our vision of things. Iconic increasing proceeds by abbreviations and articulations, with the referential pretension of “redoing the reality”. All the transitions from discourse to practice proceed from this “getting-out” of fiction outside of itself, according with the principle of the iconic increasing.

The first transition from theory to practice is founded in fictions that re- describe human action itself. The narrative structure provides the techniques of abbreviation and articulation through which the iconic increase is obtained. Referential force consists of narrative act crossing narrative structures and applying the net of a fiction of rules to the diversity of human action. While fiction is exercised inside the limits of activity of mimesis, it re-describes the action that is already there. However, imagination has a function that pertains to the dynamism of action. The noematic content of the project pertains certain schematization of the network of ends and means. With this anticipatory imagination we rehearse possible practices: project “asks” the story for its structuring power and the story receives from the project its anticipatory power. Pragmatic play coincides with the narrative play. Thus, I mediate the certainty through imaginative variations where I gauge the “I can”. Through a free play of imagination, I can progress from the simple schematization of my projects, through my desires, until the imaginative variations. At this point, we have passed trough from the mimetic function of the imagination to a function of imagination by which we can say that there is not action without imagination. At this moment, we should cross the limits of the individual action to get inside the relationship between fiction and inter-subjectivity.

Imagination and inter-subjectivity

Imagination is implicit in the historic experience, which has an analogical constitution. Here, theory of imagination transcends fiction applied to action and phenomenology of willing –as a principle of individual action. There is a historic field of experiences because there is a temporality of higher order with its own intelligibility. The transmission of traditions and the principle of analogy implied in the initial act of coupling among temporal fields make possible specific relationships, not only with the contemporaries, but also with the predecessors and the successors. Analogy is not an argument, but a transcendental principle, according to which the other one is an I as I am; the other one is an alter ego. By this transcendental condition imagination is a fundamental component of the constitution of historical field.

Transference in imagination is what Paul Ricoeur calls endopathy. Imagination is the schematism of the constitution of the intersubjectivity in the analogical a-perception. This analogical productive imagination keeps the connections that constitute the historical link alive, to avoid a radical reification of the social process. The historical experience is our capacity to be exposed to the Wirkungsgeschichte (Gadamer’s concept), it means to recognize the wirkungsgeschichtliche Bewubstsein.
Consciousness exposed to the effects of the history does not depends on its recognition, however we must be able to have consciousness of the wirkungsgeschichtliche Bewubstsein, even if the total consciousness is an Kantian Idea.
Therefore, the link that makes of every human being my similar is only accessible through a certain quantity of imaginative practices, as said above, but, at the same time, the productive imagination (schematism of the analogical link between meand the alter ego) can only be restituted through the critique of ideology and utopia, that are antagonist and are compromised , each one of them , with a pathology that turns its specific function into an almost unknown , (that is the constitution of the analogical link between me and my similar).

Ideology and utopia

Ideology is linked to a group’s necessity to provide an image to itself, to perform itself, to mise- (itself) in-scene. The pathology of the ideological phenomenon proceeds from its function of reinforcement and repetition of the social link in situations of consumed fact. Between the real practice and the interpretations through which the group realizes of its existence and its practice there is a distance that produces simplification, schematization, stereotype and ritualization.
On the other hand, utopia contrary to ideology claims its title. History of utopia is stoked out by the names of its inventors, in an inverse proportion to the ideologies’ anonymity. Utopia, as an imaginary project of other reality, justifies the most opposite options and the most diverse contents. However, the central idea about utopia should be the special extra-territoriality, that non-place from which reality can be watched/seen with new eyes, an u-topos from which we cannot take anything as acquired. The field of the possible opens itself beyond reality, and from this non-place arises the questioning about what it is. Therefore, utopia is a radical re-thinking, the counterpart of the concept of ideology as social integration. Thus, utopia could function as the social subversion.
When the ideological representation is captured by the system of authority of a society, it becomes the tool to legitimate that system. Ideology mobilizes itself to bridge the gap between the pretension of legitimacy that comes from above (authority) and the beliefs that answer from below, from the individuals. Thus, while ideology tries to dissimulate this emptiness, utopia takes off the veil of pretension of legitimacy, discovering this authority’s non declared plus-value.

The problem of power is central in all utopias, and this can be seen not only in the description of political or literary fantasies, but also in the attempts to make the utopias. These attempts show the seriousness (trustworthiness, reliability) of the utopian spirit, its capacity to institute other ways of life and its aptitude to include (to contain) the paradoxes of power.

However, it is also true that utopia develops what Ricoeur calls pathologic features: tendency to submit reality to dream, fixation on perfectionist schemas, logic of “all or nothing” (where there is not place for the time’s work), contempt with the intermediate grades and blindness about the contradictions that are inherent to the action itself.

Is it possible to construct the constructive modalities of both ideology and utopia (integration and subversion) in conjunction? Ideology tends to repetition and reflex and utopia tends to wandering. However, by mediating the social link, ideology introduces a distance, an eccentric element. Utopia is always a movement towards the human, a desperate intent to show to the human being “in the open of the utopia”, in Levinas’words. Thus, tension between ideology and utopia is insuperable. Furthermore, each element of this pair develops its own pathology. Dysfunctions of ideology are distortion and dissimulation, which are inserted in the integrative function of ideology. Dysfunction of utopia has its roots in the eccentric function of utopia that tends to squizophrenia, phantoms, and escapes.

Perhaps certain degree of individual pathology is a condition to social change, bringing into light the sclerosis of the dead institutions. In front of this thesis we need to ask about the absence of projects in the societies , because this absence generates the “illusions of dissidence” and the “temptations of order”.

To begin to answer we should consider the present, imbricated in an alive network with the past and the future, in a play between the space of experience and the horizon of expectation. The expectation, as the conjunct of our expectatives, is sustained on the experience. Thus, it becomes neither an unrealizable utopia neither a simple continuity of the past. The space of experience is the place of available possibilities, the space of traditionality that implies the efficacy of past that affects us and the reception of the past that we operate. Here we can see a dialectic between the estrangement and the non- estrangement.

The possibility of intervention of the initiative appears as a point of articulation between the expectations and the wirkungsgeschichtliche Bewubstsein. Through this intervention we have a linking without losing tension: the past is not a caducity, there is a continuum, fluent being-affected-by-the-history and the expectation is not a vague utopia, it is not a pure, unrealizable character. The imaginative variation broadens our capacity to receive the efficacy of past, and, by reassuming and recreating the world of reality, it influences our expectations. In the re-figuration of tradition, utopia finds a way to not becoming unrealizable expectation, because there is a future realizable possibility. The historical present is this initiative of the future possibility, which finds inspiration in the available possibilities of the past, which are not petrified.

Some assumptions in R. Rorty, Contingency, Irony and Solidarity, are:

- Philosophy cannot be a search for foundations, because there are no foundations.

- Truth is not something to be discovered, it is something to be made. Truth is made with language(s).

- Rorty supports his thesis on Nietzsche's thesis, and makes the same remark Nietzsche’s did: truth is a "mobile army of metaphors."

- There is not privileged language, all of them are contingent. Thus, increasing understanding is increasing metaphors.

- Metaphors do not represent anything, and they are not mediums for express anything.

- All kind of metaphysics fell down with Nietzsche’s view, then there are not a- historical principles, there are not transcendental views, there is no God to sustain any metaphysical building.

- The real and true Plato’s world is a fable. Also, all the philosophy is a fable, a narrative.

- There are no dualisms; there is not separation between non conceptualized material and concepts.

- Quine, Sellars, Davidson said “no” to essentialism and representations (as a mirror of the nature). Rorty, based in their theories, said that is a non sense to talk about “philosophical problems” (mind/reality; thought/ representation).

- Dewey said “no” to a-historical issues, and Rorty followed his steps.

- Richard Rorty doesn’t go beyond Nietzsche’s “On Truth and Lie in an extra moral sense”. is not few things to do. (Outline from Richard Rorty, Contingency, Irony and Solidarity, Chapter 1 , “The contingency of language”)

P. Ricoeur, “La metáfora [...]”, en Hermenéutica y acción, página 36: “Decir que una metáfora nueva es extraída de la nada es reconocerla por lo que ella es, a saber, una creación momentánea del lenguaje, una innovación semántica que no tiene estatuto ni a título de designación ni a título de connotación en el lenguaje establecido.” (To say that a new metaphor is extracted from nothing is to recognize it by what it is: a momentary creation of language, a semantic innovation that has no statute in the established language neither (by title of designation) as designation nor (by title of connotation) as connotation.)

Ibíd., “Palabra y símbolo”, page 12

Ibíd., “La imaginación [...]”, page 97
Ibíd., page 94

Cf. “Palabra y símbolo”, page 10 y “La metáfora [...], page 28
Ibíd, page 9 and page 11

Ibíd., “La metáfora [...]”, page 32. Cf. P. Ricoeur, “Poética y simbólica”, en Educación y política, page 30

Ibíd, . “La metáfora [...]” y “Palabra y símbolo, en Hermenéutica y acción, pág. 28 y pág. 11

Ibíd., “La metáfora [...]”, pág. 35. Cf. “view as” in Wittgenstein’s Investigaciones filosóficas.

Vide en “Palabra y símbolo”, page 10 y pp. 12-13. Cf. “La metáfora [...]”, page 31.
“In my opinion, the genres that lend themselves most readily to the presentation of philosophical ideas in non-expository, non-argumentative form are poetry and fiction. Both concentrate, like philosophy, upon the purely linguistic, in contrast with film, television, drama and opera, which by adding the visual and auditory dimensions, further distract us from the purely linguistic meanings. Thus the work for theatre by Tom Stoppard is brimful of philosophical ideas, but his plays succeed in portraying the products of reflection more than they de reflection itself. On the other hand, one would be hard put to find in the literature of academic philosophy a more compelling intellectual confrontation that the Grand Inquisitor section of The Brothers Karamazov. Indeed, this is a paradigm case, against which we can test the others, in which the quality of the dramatization is as superb as the quality of the philosophical contents being dramatized. This is the criterion that Plato strives to satisfy, although he does not always succeed in doing so.
One of the problems indigenous to the dramatization of philosophy is that the author can so readily err to the side of over dramatization. Make the text the least bit lurid, and the reader’s attention swerves away from philosophical ideas and is soaked up by those aspects of the contents that are effectively compelling. Consequently the literary qualities have to be fairly low-profile, on order not to block out the philosophical dimension. In this sense, the low-key comedy of manners may provide a more suitable setting for philosophical interplay than would a lustier form of dramatization, in which the heavy breathing can accommodate only light thinking.
For good or for ill, this is the formula that has been followed in the composition of the novels [stories] comprising the Philosophy for Children curriculum. The plots, such as they are, are of almost negligible importance when compared with the quality of reflection engaged in by the fictional characters, for in a sense it is this quality which is the true protagonist of each of the novels. (In contrast, what Henry James evidently aims to capture, in those rarified conversations that are strewn through his novels, es the ebb and flow of consciousness that accompanies philosophical thought, rather than that thought itself.) Strewn through the pages of the Philosophy for Children novels, instead, are references to the concepts that are contained in the repertoire of the philosophical tradition: truth, justice, friendship, reality and the like. Instead of studying these ideas in the contexts closer to there own youthful experience. Freed from their moorings to Aristotle, St. Thomas and Kant, these ideas float lightly on the surface of the narratives. The students are at liberty to pick them up and play with them, without having to possess the scholarly apparatus necessary for understanding them only in the context of their historical appearances. In this sense, philosophical ideas are, for children, the most appealing and indestructible of cognitive toys, not to mention how rewarding the experience of them can be to children in search of the general, the valuable and the ideal.” Matthew Lipman,
“Dramatizing philosophy”, en Encyclopedia of Philosophy of Education , 26/07/2000,

“[...].The symbol gives: I love this phrase, that says two things: Symbol gives, it is not me who put the meaning, symbol gives the meaning. However, what it gives is occasion of thought, something to think about (symbol gives us what to think). From this donation of meaning, or position of meaning, the statement suggests us that all is said in enigmas, and it is necessary to begin and re-begin in the dimension of thought.” P. Ricœur, Le Conflit des interprétations. Essais d'herméneutique, Paris, Seuil, 1969, pp. 283-284.

“I would like to end this second stage through historical time with the examination of the third connector implied by history's recourse to documents and monuments. This connector is nothing but the trace, in the sense in which F. Simiand defines history as knowledge by traces. In this sense I place the trace among the connectors between lived time and physical time by reason of its double, its mixed, nature. What, actually, is a trace? It is, in a primitive sense, a vestige left by the passage of a human being or of an animal. A trace is left, a trace remains. We speak thus of remnants of the past as of remnants from a dinner or of the relics of a saint or the ruins of an ancient monument. The important point here about the trace is its double status which refers it to two heterogeneous temporal levels. On the first level, the physical, the trace as a substitute must be a mark left by something. As such, it is handed over to the contingencies of preservation or of destruction: this is why documents must not only be collected but conserved in archives. As a physical entity, the trace is something of the present. Traces of the past exist now: they are remnants to the extent that they are still there, while the past context of the trace - people, institution, actions, passions - no longer exists. It is there that the other face of the phenomenon enters the picture. On a second level, the noetic, there is a trace only for one who can deal with the mark as a present sign of an absent thing, or better, as the present vestige of a passage
that exists no longer. A trace, then, is a present thing which stands for (vaut) an absent past. The whole enigma of the trace is here. What creates the enigma is the interconnection of a relation of causality with a relation of meaning. To follow a trace, to trace back a trace, is to effect practically the fusion of two sides of the trace, to constitute it as effect-sign. The temporal implication is considerable: to follow a trace is to effect the mediation between the no-longer of the passage and the still of the mark. At this price we now no longer have to say that the past is something over and done with in any negative sense but can say that it is something that has been, and because of this, is now preserved in the present. The historian as such does not ask himself about the ontological status of the trace; he limits himself to the epistemological problem of inference, that is, to the argumentative procedures such as S. Toulmin, for example, discusses in The Uses of Argument. This epistemological debate, however, should not eclipse the ontological debate raised by the status of the trace as a present mark standing for an absent past.” En P. Ricoeur, “Narrative Time”, translation. R. Sweeney, in Philosophy Today, Cleveland, John Caroll University. [Translation from P. Ricoeur, “Le temps raconté”, in Revue de Metaphysique et de Morale, octobre-decembre, 1984, pp. 436-452].

At the same time, the definition of history as a knowledge through traces that Paul Ricoeur offers
can be re-signified with the E. Levinas concept, that says that trace means without let appear.

William Carlos Williams’ poem, “The Red Wheelbarrow”, could serve as an example. We find several metaphors in the poem. On the other hand, the complete poem is a metaphor. Sometimes, years ago, I offered this poem as a symbol of Philosophy for Children. Thus, the poem is a metaphor and a symbol. The poem says: so much depends/ upon /a red wheel/barrow / glazed with rain/ water / beside the white/ chickens.

“Icon” is derivated from the Greek “eikon”, image.

In this text the concept of productive imagination, always refers to the production of meanings of the poiesis .

Cf. Definition of schema in Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, A 140/B 179-180. ( Book II. Analytic of Principles, Chapter I. The Schematism of the Pure Concepts of Understanding)

Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s concept about lived body is presented in Phenomenology of Perception.

This absence of hypostatization is also in E. Husserl. His phenomenology was taken in count by P. Ricoeur texts.

P. Ricoeur, “La imaginación […]”, in Hermenéutica y acción, page 100

Ibíd., “Palabra y símbolo”, page 13

Ibíd, “La imaginación[…]”, page 101

Ibíd., “Palabra y símbolo”, page 24: “Would we say that the metaphor implies a ‘tensive’ use of the language only to arise a ‘tensive’ concept of the reality?”

25 Ibíd., “La metáfora […]”, page 34

26 Ricoeur takes this concept from F. Dagognet, Ecriture et Iconographie, Paris, Vrin, 1973

27 P. Ricoeur, “La imaginación […]”, in Hermenéutica y acción”, page 102

Ibíd., “La metáfora […]”, page 44

P. Ricoeur, Educación y política, page 38

Ricoeur calls “pragma” to the thing made by the subject.

“The principle of analogy among the temporal fields is to the transmission of the traditions that the Kantian “I think” is to the causal order of the experience.” P. Ricoeur, Hermenéutica y acción, page 106

In English the best translation for this axis concept could be "consciousness of the history of effects". In the English translation of Truth and Method we can read as "historically effected consciousness”, however wirkungsgeschichtliche Bewußtsein doesn’t mean the consciousness is historically effected, or consciousness of the effects of history . Cf. Hans-Georg Gadamer, Verdad y método, page 16: “La comprensión sólo se convierte en una tarea necesitada de dirección metodológica a partir del momento en que surge la conciencia histórica […] La tesis de mi libro es que en toda comprensión de la tradición opera el momento de la historia efectual [Wirkungsgeschichte] […] cierta ambigüedad del concepto de la conciencia de la historia efectual [[wirkungsgeschichtliche Bewubstsein] tal como yo lo empleo. Esta ambigüedad consiste en que con él se designa por una parte lo producido por el curso de la historia y a la conciencia determinada por ella, y por la otra, a la conciencia de este mismo haberse producido y estar determinado.”

This is one of the meanings that is proposed in the text “ Masks, carnival and subversion in the community of inquiry, in

P. Ricoeur, Educación y política, pp. 92-94. Also, Hermenéutica y acción, page 109.

P. Ricoeur, Hermenéutica y acción, page 111.

Above presentation about some central thesis in Paul Ricoeur’s work should be put inside his thoughts’ context. P. Ricoeur is inside the movement of Phenomenology, which began with Edmund Husserl. Among its representatives are Emanuel Levinas and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. However, also is true that P. Ricoeur showed high interest in that he called “philosophy of the suspect”, expression that he minted in 1965 to refer to the Marx’s, Freud’s and Nietzsche’s philosophies. Ricoeur called these thinkers “masters of the suspect”, because they express each one from his perspective, the beginning of the crisis of the Modernity. Each one of these authors sowed the insufficiency of the notion of subject, and to take off the veils of certain hidden meanings: Marx showed the ideology as a false conscience or inverted conscience, Nietzsche take off the bad mask of the false values, and Freud put outside the customs of the pulsions of unconscious. The triple un-masking that these authors offered argue the Illustrated ideals of the human rationality about the search of happiness and the search of truth. According with Ricoeur, this suspect generates a new problem: “the lie of the consciousness, the consciousness as a lie”, and show us one of the ways in hermeneutics. Marx, Nietzsche and Freud showed there is neither founding subject neither consciousness of this subject, and they have signaled that in the basis of this notion are hidden a) social, economical an ideological elements (Marx), b) a received morality, generated from a resentment against the life and a notion of subject that is in the basis of the notion of substance, an hypostatized idol (Nietzsche) and c) a collective unconscious that reigns on the acts of the consciousness (Freud). Thus, the subject is not constitutive of itself, but it is an expression of historical, social, moral and psychological conditionings. Therefore, it is necessary think again the classic notion of interpretation, understanding as a relationship between the consciousness and the meaning. Therefore, if the notion of subject and the notion of consciousness should be considered from their constitutive elements (history, moral, unconsciousness psychical structure), our entire framework about hermeneutics changes. Thus, we need a hermeneutic that put in question, radically, the notion of meaning, because it is now non-reducible to its consciousness.

Ibíd., page. 136.

P. Ricoeur, Ética y cultura, page 57. Cf. Hermenéutica y acción, page 136.

R. Walton, “El pensamiento de la historia en Paul Ricoeur”, en Anuario de Filosofía jurídica y social”, Nro 6, Buenos Aires, 1989.

P. Ricoeur, Educación y política, page 50.

R. Walton, “El pensamiento en […]”, page 15.

P. Ricoeur, Educación y política, page 71. (Chapter 3 in this book is a summary of the ideas that P. Ricoeur’s developed in the volumes I and II of Temps et récit).


• BLACK, M., Models and Metaphor. Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1962
• DAVIDSON, D., "What Metaphors Mean." In S. Sacks (ed.) On Metaphor (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978. Reprinted in Inquiries , Into Truth and Interpretation, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1984
• DERRIDA, J.. "White Mythology: Metaphor in the Text of Philosophy." In Margins of Philosophy. Trans. Alan Bass. Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1982
• DEWEY, J., Art as Experience, New York, Capricorn Books, 1934
• GADAMER, Hans-Georg, Verdad y método. Fundamentos de una hermenéutica filosófica, trad. A. Aparicio y R. De Agapito, Salamanca, Sígueme, 1977
• HUSSERL, E., Ideas relativas a una fenomenología pura y una filosofía fenomenológica, trad. J. Gaos, México, FCE, 1949
• HUSSERL, E., Fenomenología de la conciencia del tiempo inmanente, trad. O. Langfelder, Buenos Aires, Nova, 1959
• KANT, I., Critique of Pure Reason, translation Norman Kemp Smith, electronic edition, Oxford Texts Archives and Chinese University of Hong Kong,
• MERLEAU-PONTY, M., Phenomenology of Perception, trans. Smith, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1962
• NIETZSCHE, F. , Sämtliche Werke. Kritische Studienausgabe in 15 Bänden, Hrag. von G. Colli und M. Montinari, Berlin-New York, Walter de Gruyter-DTV, 1980
• NIETZSCHE, F., “Sobre verdad y mentira en sentido extramoral”, translation. Lucía Piossek Prebisch, en Discurso y realidad, Tucumán, Argentina, 1985, vol. II, pp. 7-14
• Quine, W.V. "A Postscript on Metaphor", In Critical Inquiry, University of Chicago, Volume 5, Number 1 (Autumn 1978), pages 161-162. [reprinted in W. V. Quine's Theories and Things]
• Quine W., The Web of Belief , Random House, 1978
• RICOEUR, P., The Rule of Metaphor, multidisciplinary studies in the creation of meaning in language , London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978
• RICOEUR, P., “Narrative Time”, translation R. Sweeney, in Philosophy Today, Cleveland, John Carroll University, Winter 1985
• RICOEUR, P., Temps et récit I, Paris, Seuil, 1983
• RICOEUR, P., Temps et récit II. La configuration du temps dans le récit de fiction, Paris, Seuil, 1984
• RICOEUR, P., Temps et récit III. Le temps raconté, Paris, Seuil, 1985
• RICOEUR, P., Time and Narrative, Volumes 1-3, trans. Kathleen Blamey and David Pellauer , Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1984 -1988
• RICOEUR, P., From Text to Action, trans. Kathleen Blamey and John Thompson, Evanston, Ill: Northwestern University Press, 1991
• RICOEUR, P., La metáfora viva, translation. G. Baravalle, Buenos Aires, Megápolis, 1983
• RICOEUR, P., Ética y cultura, translation. M. Prelooker, Buenos Aires, Docencia, 1986
• RICOEUR, P, Educación y política. De la historia personal a la comunión de las libertades, s/t, Buenos Aires, Docencia, 1984
• RICOEUR, P., Hermenéutica y acción. De la hermenéutica del texto a la hermenéutica de la acción, trans. M. Prelloker et al, Buenos Aires, Docencia, 1988
• RICOEUR, P., Le Conflit des interprétations. Essais d'herméneutique, Paris, Seuil, 1969
• RICOEUR, P., Oneself as Another, trans. Kathleen Blamey. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992 (1990).
• RICOEUR, P., Lectures on Ideology and Utopia, Ed., trans. George H. Taylor. New York: Columbia University Press, 1985.
• RORTY, R., Contingency, Irony and Solidarity, New York, Cambridge, 1989
• RORTY, R. "Hesse and Davidson on Metaphor" in The Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volume LXI , 1987
• SEARLE, “Metaphor,” in A. Ortony (ed.) Metaphor and Thought , Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979

Tuesday, May 03, 2005



Si te postran diez veces, te levantas
otras diez, otras cien, otras quinientas;
no han de ser tus caídas tan violentas
ni tampoco, por ley, han de ser tantas.
Con el hambre genial con que las plantas
asimilan el humus avarientas,
deglutiendo el rencor de las afrentas
se formaron los santos y las santas.
Obcecación asnal, para ser fuerte,
nada más necesita la criatura,
y en cualquier infeliz se me figura
que no mellan los garfios de la suerte ...
¡ Todos los incurables tienen cura
cinco minutos antes de su muerte !


No te des por vencido, ni aún vencido,
no te sientas esclavo, ni aún esclavo;
trémulo de pavor, piénsate bravo,
y acomete feroz, ya mal herido.
Ten el tesón del clavo enmohecido
que ya viejo y ruin, vuelve a ser clavo;
no la cobarde estupidez del pavo
que amaina su plumaje al primer ruido.
Procede como Dios que nunca llora;
o como Lucifer, que nunca reza;
o como el robledal, cuya grandeza
necesita del agua, y no la implora...
Que muerda y vocifere vengadora,
ya rodando en el polvo, tu cabeza !


Los que viertan sus lágrimas amantes
sobre las penas que no son sus penas;
los que olvidan el son de sus cadenas
para limar las de los otros antes;
los que van por el mundo delirantes
repartiendo su amor a manos llenas,
caen, bajo el peso de sus obras buenas,
sucios, enfermos, trágicos, sobrantes.
¡Ah! Nunca quieras remediar entuertos;
nunca sigas impulsos compasivos;
ten los garfios del Odio siempre activos
y los ojos del juez siempre despiertos...
y al echarte en la caja de los muertos,
menosprecia los llantos de los vivos !


Esta vida mendaz es un estrado
donde todo es estólido y fingido,
donde cada anfitrión guarda escondido
su verdadero ser tras el tocado:
No digas tu verdad ni al más amado,
no demuestres temor ni al más temido,
no creas que jamás te hayan querido
por más besos de amor que te hayan dado.
Mira cómo la nieve se deslice
sin una queja de su labio yerto,
cómo ansía las nubes del desierto
sin que a ninguno su ansiedad confíe:
Maldice de los hombres, pero ríe;
vive la vida plena, pero muerto.


Si en vez de las estúpidas panteras
y los férreos, estúpidos leones,
encerrasen dos flacos mocetones
en la frágil cárcel de las fieras:
No habrían de yacer noches enteras
en el blando pajar de sus colchones,
sin esperanzas ya, sin reacciones,
lo mismo que dos plácidas horteras;
Cual Napoleones pensativos, graves,
no como el tigre sanguinario y maula,
escrutarían palmo a palmo su jaula,
buscando las rendijas, no las llaves...
Seas el que tú seas, ya lo sabes:
a escrutar las rendijas de tu jaula !


En pos de su nivel se lanza el río
por el gran desnivel de los breñales;
el aire es vendaval, y hay vendavales
por la ley del no fin, del no vacío;
la más hermosa espiga del estío
ni sueña con el pan en los trigales;
el más dulce panal de los panales
no declaró jamás: yo no soy mío;
y el sol, el padre sol, es raudo foco
que fomenta la vida en la Natura,
por calentar los polos no se apura,
ni se desvía un ápice tampoco:
¡ Todo lo alcanzarás, solemne loco...
siempre que lo permita tu estatura !


Como una sola estrella no es el cielo,
ni una gota que salta, el Océano,
ni una falange rígida, la mano,
ni una brizna de paja, el santo suelo:
tu gimnasia de jaula no es el vuelo,
el sublime tramonto soberano,
ni nunca podrá ser anhelo humano
tu miserable personal anhelo.
Qué saben de lo eterno las esferas ?
de las borrascas de la mar, las gotas ?
de puñetazos, las falanges rotas ?
de harina y pan, las pajas de las eras ?...
¡ Detén tus pasos Lógica, no quieras
que se hagan pesimistas los idiotas !

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