Lakoff & Johnson,Metaphors We Live By HMXP 102 Dr. Fike
The Authors • Lakoff and Johnson are cognitive linguists. • That is, they study the relationships among thought, language, and action (as in the piece that you read for today). • A key question for them is the following: How do language and thought influence each other?
Definition of “Metaphor” • What is L&J’s definition of “metaphor”? • See par. 8. • What do they mean by “metaphorical concept”? • See par. 10.
L&J’s Definitions • Metaphor: See Human Experience, par. 8: "The essence of metaphor is understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another." • Metaphor: "An analogy identifying one object with another and ascribing to the first object one or more of the qualities of the second" (Harmon and Holman, A Handbook to Literature). A comparison between two things without the use of "like" or "as." • A metaphorical concept is a sentence like “Argument is war.” It is a complete thought, rather than a mere image. L&J prefer the term metaphorical concept because metaphor is not just an image but also a complete thought; and as such, metaphor has an impact on action, for action arises from thought. But they say “that metaphor means metaphorical concept,” so the terms may be use interchangeably.
Review of Plato • What is Plato’s main metaphor? • What sub-metaphors does he use?
Answers • What is Plato’s main metaphor? • Education is a departure from a cave where appearances are distorted. • What sub-metaphors does he use? • Dragging someone up to the light • Turning around • Upward journey • Vision • Light and darkness
L&J on the First Iraq War Important points from "Metaphor and War: The Metaphor System Used to Justify War in the Gulf" (Part 1): • "Secretary of State Baker saw Saddam Hussein as 'sitting on our economic lifeline.'" • The occupation of Kuwait = a "rape," a "kidnap" • War = crime: "murder, assault, kidnapping, arson, rape, and theft" • War = a competitive game (chess) or a sport (football, boxing); emphasis on "strategic thinking" • "War is politics pursued by other means." • War = a fight between two people • War = a fairy tale: villain (Saddam), victim (Kuwait, US), hero (US), magic (weapons) • War = medicine ("surgical strikes") • Politics = business • The state = a person • Well-being = wealth • Strength for a state = military capability • Maturity for a state = industrialization • Goal of the war = to "push Iraq back out of Kuwait," to "deal the enemy a heavy blow" or a "knockout punch" • Risks = gambles
Question • What is L&J’s main point in our text? See if you can pinpoint it.
L&J’s Main Point • See par. 1 & 2: "Our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature. . . . Our concepts structure what we perceive, how we get around in the world, and how we relate to other people. Our conceptual system thus plays a central role in defining our everyday realities.”
Outline of the Text • First section: • Main idea (previous slide) • Example: “ARGUMENT IS WAR” vs. argument is a dance (par. 5, 7). • Second section: • Main ideas: “there are often many metaphors that partially structure a single concept”; metaphors overlap (par. 12). • Example: “AN ARGUMENT IS A BUILDING…JOURNEY…CONTAINER.”
An Example of How This Works • Get into groups and explore metaphors that are used to discuss the presidential primaries and caucuses. • Complete the following sentence as many times as you can: (Argument is war.) Politics is______________.
A contest A race A journey A boxing match War A horse race A gauntlet A ritual A plane ride A fireworks show A physics experiment A roller-coaster ride A revolution A structure A geological event A sailboat race Politics is…
Next Step • Take one of these metaphors and identify submetaphors. • Example: • Politics is a boxing match. • One candidate scores a knock-out punch. • What else?
Why Is This Important? • Why is it important to realize that when we describe something, we do so in terms of something else? • Complete the following sentence: It is important to understand the role of metaphor in human communication because ______________.
L&J’s Answer • Par. 9: "We talk about arguments that way because we conceive of them that way—and we act according to the way we conceive of things” (my emphasis). • What does this statement mean to you?
Expanding L&J’s Point • Thought language action habit character destiny. • Be careful of your thoughts because they can manifest in language and in action! Thoughts can shape your reality!
In Other Words • Saying that “thoughts are things” means that thought energy can influence the world around us. • These three words may be the most important lesson of the entire semester. As you think, so will you also be. • In other words, your “self” is a product of your thoughts.
Rita M. Gross’s Selection on the Metaphors Related to the Goddess • If we think of the Deity as female, what implications emerge? • Par. 25: “strength and capability . . . transcendence and dynamic creativity” • Par. 28: the coincidence of opposites such as “creation and destruction . . . death as well as birth” • Par. 33: motherhood—“images of birthing, nurturing, and mothering” • Par. 38: “a broad range of culturally valued goals and activities” • Par. 40: “explicit sexual symbolism”; par. 43: “the reintroduction of sexuality as a significant religious metaphor”
Reflection on the Film • What comments do you have about The Secret? Here are some prompts for you: • The mind shapes what you perceive—mind and matter are not totally separate. • “I am so happy and grateful now that. . . .” • Ask (me), answer (universe), receive (bring yourself into alignment with what you have asked for). • Focus + passion + gratitude results • Gratitude list. List of things in your life as you would like them to be. • Connections to Bill Strickland’s Make the Impossible Possible.
Lakoff’s Embodied Mind Thesis • If thought is metaphorical, then truth is not a direct reflection of reality. Truth is not an artifact (something fixed for all time); it is a construct. • That is, we make our own reality by thinking in certain ways. See par. 2: "Our concepts structure what we perceive, how we get around in the world, and how we relate to other people. Our conceptual system thus plays a central role in defining our everyday realities." • Further, we understand abstractions in terms of our own bodies as well as objects and events in the physical world. • So truth results from a relationship between the perceiving mind and the perceived object or idea. Truth is thus the result of a dialectical process.
Another Way To Put the Same Point • “The eye/brain is not a faithful camera, but tinkers with the world before it gives it to us.” “Some studies suggest that less than 50 percent of what we ‘see’ is actually based on information entering our eyes. The remaining 50 percent plus is pieced together out of our expectations of what the world should look like (and perhaps out of other sources such as reality fields). The eyes may be visual organs, but it is the brain that sees.” “The brain artfully fills in the gaps like a skilled tailor reweaving a hole in a piece of fabric. What is all the more remarkable is that it reweaves the tapestry of our visual reality so masterfully we aren’t even aware that it is doing so.” --Michael Talbot, The Holographic Universe
Question • If you take the ideas on the previous slides to their logical extreme, what point emerges?
Answer • There is no Truth, only perspective. This is the position called “relativism.” Everything is relative to something else (in this case, the perceiving mind). • As in our discussion of Plato, what is Truth (an absolute, an artifact waiting to be discovered), and what is truth (a perspective, something relative)? What is the difference between truth-as-artifact and truth-as-construct? This is very much like “knowledge is a construct” (one of the goals of HMXP is to help you grasp this concept). • The truth of everything you have believed to be true your entire life—including the Bible—is now open for doing exactly what Plato says: namely, turning around and getting a clearer perspective.
The Distinction • Plato: Truth is something absolute and complete; it awaits our discovery. • L & J: Truth is something that humans construct, and our own subjectivity is part of the process of constructing it. • The Secret: The mind can have an impact on physical reality.
In Other Words • What I am NOT suggesting: that you all become relativists. • What I *AM* suggesting: that you think about your thinking—question the long-standing beliefs that you have taken for granted as well as the metaphors that you use to express your beliefs.
Truth vs. truth • Can you think of any Truths on which we can all agree? • What if there is nothing that occupies in our lives the same position as the Forms/Ideas in Plato? • What if there is no such thing as truth-as-artifact? • Do we simply have to AGREE that some things will be “centers” of meaning? Truth is truth-by-consensus?
What Does This Mean to You? Activity: Zen Demonstration Student: Great teacher, I have come to learn from you. Teacher: (Sizing up pupil) I see. Welcome, please come in. Student sits down. Master prepares tea. Teacher: Would you care for some tea? Student: Yes I would, Master. Master pours tea slowly, until cup is overflowing. Student in shock. Student: Master, my cup is overflowing. Master: Then how am I to teach you? Spend 5 minutes writing about the significance of this little story for you. Do you see connections to types of education that Plato identifies? What is YOUR metaphor for education? Source: The HMXP website
The Point and the Moral • The Point: If you think you already know the Truth, how can you learn anything from this course? If you resist what this course explores, are you really getting your money’s worth? • What metaphor does the Zen Demonstration employ? • Container metaphor. • Not “The ‘Banking’ Concept of Education” (Paulo Freire): your education is not about the deposits of information that professors make for the purpose of coercion or control. • You are not receptacles; you are cocreators: this is a metaphorical concept that stems from the notion that action arises from thought and from language. Truth is a process; knowledge is a construct. • The Moral: It is important to keep an open mind as regards the ideas in our book and the kind of writing that the course requires.
A Similar Trap • The Law of Universal Retrospective Rationalization: “in retrospect, we clever humans can always find a seemingly plausible reason why things happened the way they did; we’re very, very smart pattern makers.” --Charles T. Tart, The End of Materialism
Application • What kind of metaphors do professors and students use to describe paper grading?
Negative “Nuke ’em all, let God sort ’em out.” “Your writing is the disease. I’m the cure.” “He blew me out of the water.” “He bled all over my paper.” “He trashed my paper.” “He butchered my paper.” “He ripped it to shreds.” Professor as Rambo Positive “Yeah, I’ll be hard on you, but think of it this way: each paper is a hurdle that prepares you to clear the high bar (your final exam) at the end of the semester.” “May I lend you a helping hand? Give you a boost?” Healing. Professor as coach and helper or as healer Note the Difference
Big Difference • “I’m going to NUKE this paper.” VS. • “I’m going to HEAL this paper.”
The Implications • Remember: thoughts language action habit character destiny. • So the kind of experience we have relates directly to how we think. • Here is the problem: Seeing the same thing from different perspectives often causes conflict. • Can you think of any examples?
Terrorists believe that jihad, holy war against the infidel (the United States), is justifiable. Their metaphors: Terrorists are holy warriors, heroes, and martyrs. Americans generally believe that a religiously motivated war is wrong. Our metaphor: Terrorists are ___________ (fill in the blank). Example: Terrorism
So… • How can nations and peoples get along if one person’s hero is another person’s criminal? • “Something that appears evil to one nation may be regarded as good by another nation” (C. G. Jung, CW 10, 862/457). • “ . . . each man calls barbarism whatever is not his own practice; for indeed it seems we have no other test of truth and reason than the example and pattern of the opinions and customs of the country we live in” (Montaigne, “Of Cannibals”).
Another Example • What metaphors do men and women use to describe dating and relationships? • See next slide.
Women Men Dating and Relationships(Complete this chart.)
Contrasting Views of Marriage • To be married is “to grind in the mill of an undelighted and servil copulation.” --John Milton, Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce OR • “One woman is more exotic seas and science fiction galaxies than a man can explore in a lifetime.”
Question about Couples • Could it be that couples do not get along because they have different metaphors for their shared experience?
Further Exploration • You can write a paper about a metaphorical pattern in your own life. • Example from a previous student’s paper: “My family is a house.” Or this: Matt Groening, Work Is Hell. Or THIS: “Dating is a game.” • But be sure to EVALUATE your pattern as a legitimate metaphor and ask yourself whether you benefit from it or not. END