Center for Interdisziplinary Research

ZiF Workshop

Babel Project I - epistemic functions of metaphors in scientific processes of knowledge formation

Date: 12 - 13 January 2018

Convenors: Christa Finkenwirth (Zürich, SUI), Nikola Kompa (Osnabrück, GER)

Our perception of the world and the scientific access to its causal structure are fundamentally related to language, specifically metaphors. Metaphors fulfill epistemic functions, as specific ideas of new abstract conceptions (target concepts) can be imparted by linking them to better known entrenched metaphorical source conceptions. Thus, metaphors are also essential for the new construction and articulation of scientific theories and terms. The aim of this workshop is to explore the epistemic and cognitive functions of metaphors in different scientific disciplines in more detail, and to develop a consensus-oriented working definition (including quality criteria) of epistemically effective metaphors. Therefore, participants working in the fields of biology, neuroscience, physics, literature science, philosophy and theory of science will meet in an interdisciplinary dialogue. Furthermore, in an experimental approach, they will attempt to explore the structure-generating function of metaphors by addressing specific interdisciplinary questions with different metaphorical views. Longterm goal will be to explore the general potential of such an interdisciplinary language-based method for a wider scientific applicability.

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