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Thinking Allegory Otherwise$
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Brenda Machosky

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780804763806

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804763806.001.0001

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Allegory and Science

Allegory and Science

From Euclid to the Search for Fundamental Structures in Modern Physics

Chapter:
(p.249) Eleven Allegory and Science
Source:
Thinking Allegory Otherwise
Author(s):

James J. Paxson

Publisher:
Stanford University Press
DOI:10.11126/stanford/9780804763806.003.0012

In his 1993 study of Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz's monadology and baroque aesthetics entitled The Fold, Gilles Deleuze argues that mathematics is the inscription of the literal, indeed, that mathematics—and science—are the literal. For Deleuze, science should not be taken as a discourse or system of semiosis in which the relationships of representation could be corrupted and threatened by figurality. This sort of figurality is what constitutes allegory, which seems to be the discourse that would be most threatening to science. This chapter insists that most of the advancements in mathematical thinking, including physics, are linked to an implicit allegorical structure. By acknowledging the role of allegory in scientific discourse instead of seeing it as a “threat” to a scientific way of thinking, the chapter contends that it is possible to gain a better understanding of modern science. It also claims that science itself will benefit by allowing for and realizing the presence of allegory in its theories and its evolution. In presenting its arguments, the chapter uses the geometry of Euclid as an example.

Keywords:   allegory, science, physics, geometry, Euclid, figurality, mathematics, Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, Gilles Deleuze

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