Encyclopedia of Mathematics Education

2014 Edition
| Editors: Stephen Lerman

Metaphors in Mathematics Education

  • Jorge Soto-AndradeEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-4978-8_113

Definition

Etymologically metaphor means “transfer,” from the Greek meta (trans) + pherein (to carry). Metaphor is in fact “transfer of meaning.”

Introduction

Metaphors are very likely as old as humankind. Recall Indra’s net, a 2,500-year-old Buddhist metaphor of dependent origination and interconnectedness (Cook 1977; Capra 1982), consisting of an infinite network of pearls, each one reflecting all others, in a never-ending process of reflections of reflections, highly appreciated by mathematicians (Mumford et al. 2002).

It was Aristotle, however, with his taxonomic genius, who first christened and characterized metaphors c. 350 BC in his Poetics: “Metaphor consists in giving the thing a name that belongs to something else; the transference being either from genus to species, or from species to genus, or from species to species, on the grounds of analogy” (Aristotle 1984, 21:1457b). Interestingly for education, Aristotle added:

The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor....

Keywords

Metaphor Conceptual metaphor Metaphoring Reification Embodied cognition Gestures Analogy Representations 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mathematics, Faculty of Science and Centre for Advanced Research in EducationUniversity of ChileSantiagoChile