Making new analogies is like making a key for a lock you haven’t seen before. You can learn some rules to help dream them up, but ultimately it’s a creative act and can’t be fully controlled.
You’re limited by your past experience as to what kind of keys you can make. If the key shape deviates too much, it won’t open the lock. Like inventions, the best analogies aren’t invented wholesale, but built upon the work of others.
They make the entire subject they cover more beautiful and interesting.
In paragraph 13 of Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay titled "Education," where do examples of allusion, analogy, rhetorical questions, imperative sentences, and sentence variety and pacing occur, and what are their effects? Our certified Educators are real professors, teachers, and scholars who use their academic expertise to tackle your toughest questions.
One of my favorites was from an MIT ecology class which expressed the idea of biological niche as a section of an n-dimensional feature space.
If you didn’t study linear algebra, that may not make any sense, but it was widely appreciated by the audience who had a stronger math background.I’ve long argued that good analogies are a key to learning well. They’re a creative act, so there’s no step-by-step which will produce them reliably.Abstract subjects like math, science and philosophy are difficult to learn because they aren’t anchored to anything in our experience. Their formation also depends on the very insight they are trying to generate.When I say voltage is to the electric force what height is to the gravitational force, that is helpful because height is more concrete than electric potential.But a good analogy doesn’t need to be concrete, it only needs to be expressed in terms of an idea you already know deeply.That latter fact is important when creating analogies for yourself.Concreteness is good, but as long as you understand the analogous domain well, anything works. They match at least some of the features of the idea you’re trying to explain.I appreciate good analogies like art or inventions.An analogy compromises between familiarity and representativeness, with good analogies choosing just the right amount for the context. They pour color into a featureless void and breathe life into something static.Therefore, a good analogy can be impossible to make when it is needed most.I want to share my thoughts on what makes an analogy good, as a learning tool.