[ by Charles Cameron — an MIT physica professor works in language games on biology ]
I’m posting this because of one sentence:
When you refuse to let go of two things that are divergent in the way they cause you to talk,” he says, “it forces you in the direction of translation.
I found it in an intriguing article, How Do You Say “Life” in Physics?
After a brief intro to MIT physicist Jeremy England, the article touches on interdisciplinary translation — which, when you think about it, is a very Koestlerian sort of bisociative process:
Different fields of science, too, are languages unto themselves, and scientific explanations are sometimes just translations. “Red,” for instance, is a translation of the phrase “620-750 nanometer wavelength.” “Temperature” is a translation of “the average speed of a group of particles.” The more complex a translation, the more meaning it imparts. “Gravity” means “the geometry of spacetime.”
Then we get theological, with a twist:
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth …” Here, the Hebrew word for “create” is bara, the word for “heavens” is shamayim, and the word for “earth” is aretz; but their true meanings, England says, only come into view through their context in the following verses. For instance, it becomes clear that bara, creation, entails a process of giving names to things; the creation of the world is the creation of a language game. “God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” God created light by speaking its name. “We have heard this phrase so many times that by the time we are old enough to ponder it, we easily miss its simplest point,” England says. “The light by which we see the world comes from the way we talk about it.” That might be important, thought England, if you’re trying to use the language of physics to describe biology.
Finally, we get the basic bisociation laid out in plain words:
As a young faculty member at MIT, he neither wanted to stop doing biology, nor thinking about theoretical physics. “When you refuse to let go of two things that are divergent in the way they cause you to talk,” he says, “it forces you in the direction of translation.”
I hadn’t thought much about translation as a form of semblance until now, but it opens vistas..
An interesting article.
The tree and the solar panel — there’s much food there for analogical thought.