Newtons apple tree may have been an early observation he made which helped him formulate his mechanical theory (we don’t know as he tells the story retrospectively)
It may have been used to establish a retrospective claim to establishing an entire field of knowledge (a foundation legend).
In later life the story fits with Newtons wider perspective on sciences relationship with other forms of knowing in this case religion and perhaps unsurprisingly for Newton prophecy in particular.
It is potentially a number of things, empirical observation, story, legend, philosophical observation or myth.
When it leaves Newton’s mind and enters wider culture further association are formed.
Its any number of things depending on situation and context.
I suppose what interests me most is philosophy’s rather close relationship with myth and sciences rejection of the term as an error of thought that is non-empirical.
It seems rather similar in form to attacking sciences use of metaphor as ‘mythical’ and non-philosophical in nature.
One traditional role of metaphor is that it allows acts that could potentially spiral into extreme forms of violence to be disguised and limit the potential for a serious social explosion.
Arranging marriages in Scotland if handled badly could result in vicious and protracted feuding. The language that surrounded marriage proposals was exceptionally guarded. ‘ I hear you have a sheep out of its fold, a ship without a sail.’ These are the culturally accepted forms of asking for a females hand in marriage.
Metaphor here is used as a means of limiting dispute. With every act of magic, magic increases. Comparable to ‘the wealth of the bewitched’ the power relationship formed between confessor and ritual performer as a magical ritual is enacted.