About the Author We may not always know it, but we think in metaphor. A large proportion of our most commonplace thoughts make use of an extensive, but unconscious, system of metaphorical concepts, that is, concepts from a typically concrete realm of thought that are used to comprehend another, completely different domain.
About the Author We may not always know it, but we think in metaphor. A large proportion of our most commonplace thoughts make use of an extensive, but unconscious, system of metaphorical concepts, that is, concepts from a typically concrete realm of thought that are First amendment essay ideas to comprehend another, completely different domain.
Such concepts are often reflected in everyday language, but their most dramatic effect comes in ordinary reasoning.
Because so much of our social and political reasoning makes use of this system of metaphorical concepts, any adequate appreciation of even the most mundane social and political thought requires an understanding of this system. But unless one knows that the system exists, one may miss it altogether and be mystified by its effects.
For me, one of the most poignant effects of the ignorance of metaphorical thought is the mystification of liberals concerning the recent electoral successes of conservatives. Conservatives regularly chide liberals for not understanding them, and they are right.
The reason at bottom is that liberals do not understand the form of metaphorical thought that unifies and makes sense of the full range of conservative values.
To understand what metaphor has to do with conservative politics, we must begin with that part of our metaphor system that is used to conceptualize morality -- a system of roughly two dozen metaphors.
To illustrate how the system works, let us begin with one of the most prominent metaphors in the system -- the metaphor by which morality is conceptualized in terms of accounting. Keeping the Moral Books We all conceptualize well-being as wealth.
We understand an increase in well-being as a "gain" and a decrease of well-being as a "loss" or a "cost. When two people interact causally with each other, they are commonly conceptualized as engaging in a transaction, each transferring an effect to the other.
An effect that helps is conceptualized as a gain; one that harms, as a loss. Thus moral action is conceptualized in terms of financial transaction.
Just as literal bookkeeping is vital to economic functioning, so moral bookkeeping is vital to social functioning. And just as it is important that the financial books be balanced, so it is important that the moral books be balanced.
Of course, the "source domain" of the metaphor, the domain of financial transaction, itself has a morality: It is moral to pay your debts and immoral not to. When moral action is understood metaphorically in terms of financial transaction, financial morality is carried over to morality in general: The Moral Accounting Schemes The general metaphor of Moral Accounting is realized in a small number of basic moral schemes: Reciprocation, Retribution, Restitution, Revenge, Altruism, etc.
Each of these moral schemes is defined using the metaphor of Moral Accounting, but the schemes differ as how they use this metaphor, that is, they differ as to their inherent logics.
Here are the basic schemes. Reciprocation If you do something good for me, then I "owe" you something, I am "in your debt. The books are balanced. We know there is a metaphor at work here partly because financial reasoning is used to think about morality, and partly because financial words like "owe," "debt," and "repay" are used to speak of morality.
Even in this simple case, there are two principles of moral action. Moral action is giving something of positive value; immoral action is giving something of negative value.
Thus, when you did something good for me, you engaged in the first form of moral action. When I did something equally good for you, I engaged in both forms of moral action.
I did something good for you and I paid my debts. Here the two principles act in concert. Retribution Moral transactions get complicated in the case of negative action.
The complications arise because moral accounting is governed by a moral version of the arithmetic of keeping accounts, in which gaining a credit is equivalent to losing a debit and gaining a debit is equivalent to losing a credit.
Suppose I do something to harm you. Then, by Well-Being is Wealth, I have given you something of negative value. You owe me something of equal negative value. By moral arithmetic, giving something negative is equivalent to taking something positive.
By harming you, I have taken something of value from you.James Madison drafted the First Amendment, with the primary goals of empowering citizens to express their views about their representatives in government and giving them the freedom to criticize the government and call for changes in it without fear.
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