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Aspectual Analogy

Analogy is one of the important ideas in Dooyeweerd's philosophy. His idea is that each distinct aspect (sphere of meaning) contains echoes of the other aspects, which are analogies. Analogical contrasts with original meaning of the aspect. For example:

Causality is original in the physical aspect. But there is something that feels like causality in logic (analytical aspect), in history (formative aspect) and in jurisprudence (juridical aspect).

Growth is original in the biotic aspect, but economic growth is an analogy in the economic aspect.

Some common analogies are found in the table below.

Aspect Kernel concept Analogies
Quantitative Amount Pistic: infinity of God
Spatial: size
Aesthetic: "a lot of fun"
Spatial Continuous extension Sensitive: A large sound
Lingual: Extension
Social: Close friend
Economic: Large organisation
Kinematic Movement Quantitative: Incrementation Analytic: Logical process [NC,II:120]
Analytic: trajectory of thought
Lingual: Flow of argument or story
Social: Changing status or class
Economic: Transfer of resources
Pistic: A 'movement' that embodies some belief that emerges from a particular situation, e.g. Women's Movement, Labour Movement
Physical Causality Sensitive: Stimulus-response
Analytic: Premise-conclusion
Formative: Means-end
Lingual: Utterance-reply
Juridical: Retribution
Biotic Life, organisms Economic: economic growth / health
Quantitative: growth in amount
Social: healthy friendship
Pistic: "this church is dead / alive"
Quantitative Amount Pistic: infinity of God
Spatial: size
Aesthetic: "a lot of fun"
Social 'we', togetherness Quantitative: Sharing a common factor
Biotic: Companion plants
Psychic: animal bonding, groups and societies
Lingual: Recognition of a similar other, a recipient for symbolic signification
Aesthetic Harmony, fun Quantitative: Perfect numbers
Biotic: Symbiosis
Sensitive: Complementary colours
Lingual: Integrality of content
Ethical Self-giving, sacrificial love Quantitative:
Biotic: Plants letting themselves be eaten
Psychic: Parents, especially mothers, giving themselves for their offspring
Lingual: When we write or talk, we give meaning away from ourselves to others; indeed all written meaning gives of itself to all the rest in a global network of meaningfulness.
Economic: Investment (giving something before, and with no absolute certainty of, return)
Juridical: Vulnerability (voluntary).

(Some more to be added; please send suggestions.)

About Analogy

Inter-aspect analogy is what makes metaphor and simile possible. The laws of one aspect do not apply to the aspect in which an analogy occurs. So, any thought that translates the laws from one aspect to another is in danger of misleading both itself and others. For example, if we treat historical act and result as determined in the way physical causality is, we deceive ourselves and fail to understand.

Dooyeweerd believed that it is very important in philosophy to distinguish analogical from original meaning. If we do not, our thinking becomes fuzzy (even though it might convince some) and can be philosophically dangerous, leading into blind alleys.

Some suggest that everything is metaphor (analogy). That will not be argued here, except to say that to Dooyeweerd each aspect has an original meaning that is not analogical, but that since analogy is to do with meaning, and so is language, and since for each original meaning there are several analogical meanings, it is not surprising that in language much of the meaning of words or utterances is analogical.


This page, "http://dooy.info/analogy.html", is part of The Dooyeweerd Pages, which explain, explore and discuss Dooyeweerd's interesting philosophy. Questions or comments are very welcome.

Compiled by Andrew Basden. You may use this material subject to conditions.

Written on the Amiga with Protext.

Created: 23 August 2006. Last updated: 7 February 2015 social, 9 February 2015 ethical. 24 October 2017 added intro and section after table; new .end; extended table. 25 October 2017 trajectory.