Chemical simile

In hmolscience, chemical simile is figure of speech comparing two unlike things that is often introduced by like or as, e.g. a normal simile is “cheeks like roses”, therefore a deemed chemical simile might be “people like atoms”, a favorite of French sociophysicist Serge Galam. [1]

Goethe’s classic chemical tale is sometimes referred to as simile; the following, e.g., is one English-translation rendition of Goethe’s advertisement: [4]

“It seems that his continued work in physics made the author choose this strange title. He may have noticed that often in natural science ethical similes are used to bring something nearer that is remote from the region of human knowledge, and so, presumably, he may have wanted to trace the parlance of a chemical simile back to its spiritual origin, all the more so since there is after all just one nature.”

In 1973, Beda Allemann, an anti-reductive determinist, in his “On the Function of the Chemical Parable in Goethe’s Elective Affinities”, supposedly referred to Goethe’s human chemical theory as “chemical simile” that failed to conform to the plot. [3]

In Oct 1914, German-born American chemical engineer Eugene Roeber, editor of Metallurgical and Chemical Engineering, during an American Institute dinner talk, described WWI as a large chemical reaction, in a way that was reported as “chemical simile, e.g. in comparing individuals to free ions, without free will, of dissociation theory. [3]

See also
Chemical analogy
Chemical metaphor

1. Simile – Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 2000.
2. (a) Allemann, Beda. (1973). “On the Function of the Chemical Parable in Goethe’s Elective Affinities” (“Zur Funktion der chemischen Gleichnisrede in Goethe’s WahlverwandtschaftenUntersuchungen zur Literature als Geschichte (pgs. 199-218). Ed. Vincent J. Gunther”), Helmut Koopmann, Peter Putz, and Hans Joachim Schrimpf. Berlin: Erich Schmidt Verlag.
(b) Engelstein, Stefani. (2008). Anxious Anatomy: the Conception of the Human Form in Literary and Naturalist Discourse (pgs. 54, 252). SUNY Press.
3. Anon. (1914). “Letter” (Ѻ), The Mining Magazine, 11:221, Oct.
4. Kompridis, Nokolas. (2006). Philosophical Romanticism (pg. 246). Routledge.

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