Symbol: The solar disk emits its rays.
The modern understanding: the rays fill and traverse a pre-existing, empty, and continuous space.
The Traditional understanding: the rays constitute space. No centre and radii, no space. Further: space is neither homogeneous nor continuous. Rather: Space itself assumes the character of its centre.
In rhetoric centre and radii assume the form of place (locus) or common place (locus communes), in either their analytical or cumulative character. These are fixed points or focal points in the always emerging understanding of a community. But they do not merely reflect or communicate meaning. They create meaning. They constitute meaning. They open up the possibility of meaning as depicted in Vico’s image of clearing a forest to build a civil world.
Expression is a species of manifestation. Hence expression is governed by cyclical laws. Meaning begins as metaphor a “primordial metaphor” as Vico by way of Grassi would have it. It passes into ratio and ends in irony. Also articulated by Vico in terms of ages, the ages of the gods, of heroes, and of men.
For Vico by way of Grassi, the appearance of primary metaphor occasions entailments and assumptions—like center and radii—a semantic system, graded, hierarchal, dynamic and evolving.
- This opens up the possibility of enthymeme or links between the data of the world and our interpretive categories based on assumptions.
- The other side of enthymeme is paradigm. This is that which seeks to shape or extend the development of primary metaphor into system or ratio. In Perelman’s terms these are arguments that seek to establish a structure or reality as opposed to merely basing themselves on an existing structure. It is both principle of development from primary metaphor to ratio and principle of its decline toward irony and negation as exceptions, anomalies, or problem cases accumulate apace.