I am interested in the phenomenon of ‘seeing’ because it
encapsulates the mystery of meaning. The moment of recognition
happens as if by magic; and yet, when we reflect on it, we see- its
very name tells us this-that it is impossible without prior
experience. What becomes puzzling then is the phenomenon
of insight, the creation (apparently) of new meaning. Here, we
forget that to recognize can mean to re-think, as in think through
differently. It need not always signify mere repetition of a former
cognition. We say in such cases not only that we recognize x (as Y),
but that we realize x is Y.

In fact, we almost never use the word ‘recognize’ -even in the
most straightforward cases of identification or recall – unless there
is some problem: we don’t see her face clearly, or she has changed,
or we met only briefly years ago. That is, ‘recognition’, even in
apparently straightforward cases, involves re-organization of
experience- an act of contextualization, a sensing of connexions
between aspects of immediate experience and other experiences.

Thus, the experiences of seeing how an assemblage of parts must
go together, recognizing an old friend in an unfamiliar setting, and
understanding a metaphor are species of the same phenomenon.
They all involve insight, understood as re-cognition; a gestalt shift.
And this is the original of meaning.

— Jan Zwicky, Wisdom & Metaphor

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