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This is a paragraph in Huxley's novel Ape and Essence, talking about a painting by Piero Della Francesca:

For all their silken softness, the folds of every garment would have the inevitability and definitiveness of syllogisms carved in porphyry and throughout the whole we should feel the all-pervading presence of Plato's God, forever mathematizing chaos into the order and beauty of art.

What does he mean by: "the folds of every garment would have the inevitability and definitiveness of syllogisms carved in porphyry" in this passage?

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  • Presumably an extended metaphor is at work here. – User4780993 Mar 21 at 10:58
  • Could you elaborate – Hamza Maher Abdurrahman Mar 21 at 11:18
  • If one reflects on what syllogisms are, the metaphor is fairly obvious. – jsw29 Mar 21 at 17:03
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This is an example of a usage of metaphor to describe contrasts of soft and malleable appearance with an underlying harsh and unyielding reality.

We have similar examples in "Heart of Stone" and "Iron fist in a velvet glove". Huxley has merely used words appropriate to the linguistic register that he chooses - that of classical thought. The silken folds are soft, the porphyry is hard.

The apparent soft nature of the material and its careful depiction as gently enrobing cloth, ready to move with the slightest breath of wind or stir of the body contrasts with the reality that nothing will change once the painting is finished, that the arrangement is set for ever by the rationality of Plato's God (A god of reason, not of randomness), in the same way that a syllogism sets out an indisputable logical trail. (for example, All men are human; all humans die; therefore all men die.)

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