Why do we make these analogies? It is not just to co-opt words but to co-opt their inferential machinery. Some deductions that apply to motion and space also apply nicely to possession, circumstances and time. That allows the deductive machinery for space to be borrowed for reasoning about other subjects. […] The mind couches abstract concepts in concrete terms.
— Steven Pinker, How The Mind Works, p.353 [emphasis added]
I am, I must confess, a great believer in the power of analogy.
Although an analogy is, in the end, only an analogy and must not be confused with the thing itself, it can be helpful.
As Steven Pinker notes above, the great thing about concrete analogies and models of abstract concepts is that they allow us to co-opt the inferential machinery of well-understood, concrete concepts and apply them to abstract phenomena: for example, we often treat time as…
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