Exemple historique, comparaison, analogie, métaphore : sont-ils interchangeables ? // [Historical Example, Comparison, Analogy, Metaphor: Are they interchangeable?]

Critical meta-discourses dealing with the notion of historical example often allow us to observe an unexpected phenomenon: in the heat of their demonstration, both scholars and lay persons do not distinguish between example, comparison, analogy or historical metaphors and seem to consider them as interchangeable. In the scientific discourse, analogy is a notion that covers the terms metaphor, comparison, and example (Plantin). In the media discourse, the historical example of the « Thirties » (the economic, political, and social crisis) can function as a framework in which these notions are not clearly separated. This paper intends to explore the rhetorical paths leading from one argument to the other, placing on the same level comparison, an “an almost logic argument” anchored in a well-known referential reality, and arguments founding the structure of reality. The close analysis of two typical examples dealing respectively with the accusation of populism in the thirties and today, and with “a tropical Nazism”, constitutes the framework in which the discursive and argumentative practices leading from the historical example to the other arguments are analyzed. Eventually, the paper puts forwards an explanatory hypothesis about this porosity of borders between historical example, comparison, analogy and metaphor.