Adventures of a metaphor

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This chapter analyses some examples taken from the different versions of themetaphor of the beehive or the swarm of bees (one of the most popular symbolicmodels of human society), with the aim of exploring the relevance of cognitiveand persuasive aspects in this political metaphor. What the analysis of thisparticular example aims to show is, ultimately, that, in many cases, politicalmetaphors are persuasive not because they are clear, but because of their ambiguityand their relative obscurity. In this particular case, the rhetorical force of themetaphor is exploited with the aim of increasing the effectiveness of an implicitrhetorical definition, based on the selection of the semantic features that canbe persuasive, disregarding others that are possibly self-defeating. Besides that,the effectiveness of the beehive metaphor is grounded, on the one hand, on thepersuasive force of the naturalistic argument, which derives from the allegednaturalness of the model (i.e. the beehive as a ‘naturally’ hierarchical, or cooperative,or monarchical society), on the other hand, on its imaginative power.


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