Biology as Society, Society as Biology: Metaphors

  • Sabine Maasen
  • Everett Mendelsohn
  • Peter Weingart

Part of the Sociology of the Sciences book series (SOSC, volume 18)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-vi
  2. Metaphors: Is there a Bridge over Troubled Waters?

    1. Sabine Maasen, Everett Mendelsohn, Peter Weingart
      Pages 1-8
  3. Metaphors Revalued

  4. “Struggle”

  5. “Evolution” and “Organism”

  6. Economics

  7. Back Matter
    Pages 357-358

About this book


not lie in the conceptual distinctions but in the perceived functions of metaphors and whether in the concrete case they are judged positive or negative. The ongoing debates reflect these concerns quite clearly~ namely that metaphors are judged on the basis of supposed dangers they pose and opportunities they offer. These are the criteria of evaluation that are obviously dependent on the context in which the transfer of meaning occurs. Our fundamental concern is indeed the transfer itself~ its prospects and its limits. Looking at possible functions of metaphors is one approach to under­ standing and elucidating sentiments about them. The papers in this volume illustrate, by quite different examples, three basic functions of metaphors: illustrative, heuristic~ and constitutive. These functions rep­ resent different degrees of transfer of meaning. Metaphors are illustrative when they are used primarily as a literary device, to increase the power of conviction of an argument, for example. Although the difference between the illustrative and the heuristic function of metaphors is not great, it does exist: metaphors are used for heuristic purposes whenever "differences" of meaning are employed to open new perspectives and to gain new insights. In the case of "constitutive" metaphors they function to actually replace previous meanings by new ones. Sabine Maasen in her paper introduces the distinction between transfer and transforma­ tion.


Age of Enlightenment America crisis culture enlightenment individual individuality metaphor natural philosophy nature philosophy politics society sociology Victorian era

Editors and affiliations

  • Sabine Maasen
    • 1
  • Everett Mendelsohn
    • 2
  • Peter Weingart
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BielefeldGermany
  2. 2.Harvard UniversityUSA

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995
  • Publisher Name Springer, Dordrecht
  • eBook Packages Springer Book Archive
  • Print ISBN 978-1-4020-0251-9
  • Online ISBN 978-94-011-0673-3
  • Series Print ISSN 0167-2320
  • Buy this book on publisher's site