(from Greek ἀναλογία, analogia
, "proportion") is a cognitive
process of transferring information or meaning from a particular subject (the analogue or source) to another (the target), or a linguistic expression corresponding to such a process. In a narrower sense, analogy is an inference
or an argument from one particular to another particular, as opposed to deduction, induction
, and abduction, where at least one of the premises or the conclusion
is general. The word analogy
can also refer to the relation between the source and the target themselves, which is often, though not necessarily, a similarity, as in the biological notion of analogy.
Analogy plays a significant role in problem solving
, as well as decision making, perception, memory
, creativity, emotion, explanation
, and communication. It lies behind basic tasks such as the identification of places, objects and people, for example, in face perception and facial recognition systems. It has been argued that analogy is "the core of cognition
". Specific analogical language comprises exemplification, comparisons, metaphors, similes, allegories, and parables, but not
metonymy. Phrases like and so on
, and the like
, as if
, and the very word like
also rely on an analogical understanding by the receiver
of a message
including them. Analogy is important not only in ordinary language and common sense
(where proverbs and idioms give many examples of its application) but also in science, philosophy, and the humanities. The concepts of association, comparison, correspondence, mathematical and morphological homology, homomorphism, iconicity, isomorphism, metaphor
, resemblance, and similarity are closely related to analogy. In cognitive linguistics, the notion of conceptual metaphor may be equivalent to that of analogy.
Analogy has been studied and discussed since classical antiquity by philosophers, scientists, and lawyers. The last few decades have shown a renewed interest in analogy, most notably in cognitive science.