New metaphors can create new realities

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by coberst, Nov 12, 2007.

  1. coberst Registered Senior Member

    New metaphors can create new realities

    Lakoff and Johnson, coauthors of “Metaphors we Live By”, speak of a newly arrived Iranian student who had mistaken the constant refrain he heard from other students that “the solution of my problems” meant that they were talking about a metaphor that was unfamiliar to him but sounded very intriguing. This Iranian student was very disappointed when he discovered that these other students were speaking in frustration rather than of a new and wonderful metaphor.

    He had mistaken this ‘solution of my problems’ was some kind of chemical mixing bowl, “which he took to be a large volume of liquid, bubbling and smoking, containing all of their problems, either dissolved or in the form of precipitates, with catalysts constantly dissolving some problems (for the time being) and precipitating out others.”

    The authors see this as an accidently developed but marvelous new metaphoric means for viewing problems and their solutions. The normal metaphor for problem solving is usually the puzzle metaphor, ‘problem is puzzle’.

    This new problem metaphor, ‘problems in solution’, offers a deliciously new and useful slant on the nature of problems and the nature of solving problems in life.

    ‘Problems in solution’ metaphor would entail:
    • Problems never completely disappear
    • Solving one problem may precipitate another
    • Since we have little control of what goes into he pot we constantly find new ones and old ones under another guise
    • A catalyst for solving one problem my promote another
    • A temporary problem solution may be the most we can hope for
    • Problems are part of the natural order of things

    The ‘problem is puzzle’ metaphor leads us to believe that there is an ultimate right solution whereas the ‘problems in solution’ does not.

    All this does not mean that it is easy to change metaphors that we live by but it does point up the importance of metaphor and how metaphors affect our world view and our daily mundane existence.

    Can you think of a new but marvelous metaphor?

    Can metaphors help save us from our self?

    Is ‘war and terrorism’ a useful metaphor? For whom is it useful?
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  3. RoyLennigan Registered Senior Member

    I like that metaphor--does seam to sit better with me than the "problem is a puzzle". Yes, we will never "finish the puzzle" as it may be. Life and the human strain are an ongoing experiment that will never end save for extinction.

    All communication is a metaphor for what actually exists. The language of "god" would be nothing short of reality itself. Absolute truth cannot be conveyed, cannot even be understood, by humans.

    The "war on terrorism" is a useful metaphor--it allows those in power to maintain both:
    a) the appearance that it is a war that can and will be won.
    b) that terrorism consists of a certain group of people who can only be described as such.

    Both of these are obvious lies. But they are not said outright. Terrorism has always existed. It always will exist. There will always be radicals who do not like those who have power as long as there are those with power. If it were an actual war, they would not be terrorists--they would be warriors of an ideal.

    Language is merely a set of metaphors with which to manipulate the human mind. It is like a virus.
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  5. Grantywanty Registered Senior Member

    Well, there's a little synchronicity. If you look at my last post on your Critical Thinking thread I raise the issue of Creative thinking and metaphors. My point was that Critical Thinking is not enough on its own. In fact you cannot create new metaphors with Critical thinking only evaluate them. So how do we teach people to be creative, lateral, flexible metahorically thinkers? I found De Bono's work and Synectics very useful in this area, but there are many others.
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