Metaphor and ideological critique: the case of Aristotle

Guy Bouchard



Aristotle’s Poetics (1457b 6-9) defines the trope of resemblance in the following terms:

“Metaphor is the application of a strange term either transferred from the genus and applied to the species or from the species and applied to the genus, or from one species to another or else by analogy”

It is both a definition and a classification which offers three types of binary combinations. It would be easy to indicate that this typology rests not only in depicting resemblance of two things, but also in the relation of exclusion and inclusion, as is the case with synecdoche (inclusion) and metonymy (exclusion). But the ideological analysis that the present paper undertakes may be all the more readily accommodated by the Aristotelian conception of the work his works and their commentators. The analysis begins with examining a few explicit metaphors, some unprecedented metaphors. Later, the attitude of some linguists regarding metaphor is presented, their trials, or actually the lack of thereof, to metamorphose the Greek philosopher as a lifeguard of a contemporary thought locked in a series of ideological impasses.


Aristotle; metaphor; ideology; explicit metaphor; unprecedented metaphor

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