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Analogy vs. Example


Phidippides
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How does an analogy differ from an example of the same category?

If I say, "Just as Rome was the great superpower of its day that eventually met its demise, so, too, will the United States meet its demise," I am drawing an analogy.  This is a parallel between Ancient Rome and the U.S.

However, if I say, "In regard to the U.S., we know that the power of political empires is cyclical, with a rise of power, and then a decline.  The Ancient Roman empire is one such example of this in action," am I still drawing an analogy, or a mere example?

 


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Donald Baker
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First one shows a parallel to a pattern of decline between two powers who dominated their eras.  The second one includes America on a list as proof of a thesis statement.  Basically the first one is more concerned about the similarities between Rome and America while the second one is more concerned about the pattern of decline itself.  One compares while the other cites as supporting proof.

Even if Trump were to be revealed as the Dark Lord of the Sith, he's still better than the last four presidents we've had.


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Phidippides
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That's a good answer, but does it mean only the first is the analogy? 

Also, here's the Merriam Webster definition of "analogy":

a : a comparison of two otherwise unlike things based on resemblance of a particular aspect
b : resemblance in some particulars between things otherwise unlike : similarity

Based on this, it seems that drawing parallels between Rome and America is somewhat problematic in terms of analogy because they are things that are "like" to begin with.  This isn't to say the parallels can't be made, but they might not qualify as analogies because they are too similar (political superpowers, only separated by time).


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Donald Baker
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Perhaps we could say examples must meet the fulfillment of a specific criteria, whereas analogies need only share a resemblance that can form a connection from otherwise unrelated components such as space and time.  Also, analogies require 2 or more components for which comparisons can be drawn.  Examples, however, can be singular and compared to as few as a single criteria.  

An example of a city is Rome.

Rome and Washington DC both were home to a Senate.

The first is a true example that meets a general criteria.  The second is an analogy of two historically and geographically unrelated cities who share(ed) a commonality in having a Senate.

Does this work?

Even if Trump were to be revealed as the Dark Lord of the Sith, he's still better than the last four presidents we've had.


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