Chapter published in:How Metaphors Guide, Teach and Popularize Science
Edited by Anke Beger and Thomas H. Smith
[Figurative Thought and Language 6] 2020
► pp. 41–71
Social metaphors in cellular and molecular biology
Consistent with conceptual metaphor theory (CMT), metaphor use in biology is characterized by three overarching metaphorical themes: The Semiotic Metaphor, Teleology and Emergence/Supervenience. These themes are applied in analyzing metaphor use in the study of cellular systems. Use of metaphors drawn from social domains is extensive and systematic. In science teaching, attention should be paid to how scientists acquire and evaluate new knowledge, and convey new findings. Abductive inference as a means of arriving at a best explanation is of great pedagogical value. Abductive inference depends upon metaphors grounded in embodied and social conceptual frameworks. Explicit acknowledgment of metaphorical usage in science teaching illuminates the path from scientific observations toward robust theories.
Keywords: Conceptual Metaphor Theory, Semiotic Metaphor, Teleology, Emergence, complexity theory, supervenience, quorum sensing, deliberate metaphor, abductive inference, inference to the best explanation
Published online: 22 April 2020
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