Monday, October 8, 2007

Metaphors we live by.

A lot of what I am about to say comes from  an essay by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson.

So... how we govern our lives is based a lot on metaphors. After I read this essay, it became quite apparent to me and so I would like to discuss one metaphor in life I found particularly interesting. The metaphor of the Chemical.

"It is both beautiful and insightful. It gives us a view of problems as things that never disappear utterly and that cannot be solved once and for all. All of your problems are always present, only they must be dissolved and in solution, or they may be solid in form. The best you cna hope for is to find a catalyst that will make one problem dissolve without making another one."

"The chemical metaphor gives us a new view of human problems.  It is appropriate to the experience of finding that problems which we thought were "solved" turn up again and again. The chemical metaphor says that problems are not the kind of things that can be made to disappear forever. To treat them as things that can be "solved" once and for all is pointless."

It goes on to say that to live by this metaphor would be to accpet it as a fact that no problem ever dissapears forever and that instead of directing our energies towards solving those problems, we should direct them towards finding out what catalysts will disolve your most pressing problems for the longest time without making worse ones.


To live by this metaphor would also mean that my problems have a different kind of reality. Temporary solutions would be an accomplishment rather than a failure. This is the kind of metaphor I wish I lived by more often. Problems would be a part of the natural order of things rather than "...disorders to be cured." The way I would understand my life and the way I would act in it would be different. But it is so much easier said than done. 

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