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Metaphors are Mindfunnels

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posted on Jan, 19 2009 @ 12:39 PM
So a lot of you know me for being a gadfly regarding convictions. For an example of this, see the link in my signature.

This PDF linked to in this post came to me yesterday, and I felt that it was more than appropriate for ATS. The greatest conspiracy I find, is the conspiracy of our mind. The ego's attempt to find absolute truth out of a sense of insecurity is, I have found in my own experience, the only real obstacle any of us has.

I hope you enjoy this PDF by a few military analysts....

Reading Mark Johnson and George Lakoff’s book Metaphors We Live By felt like the scene from The Matrix where Neo meets Morpheus for the first time. After just a few pages, we were suddenly and vigorously aware of previously hidden layers of reality. They had always been quietly present, but now they were glaringly obvious—and frankly, they made our heads hurt. To borrow a phrase from that movie, Lakoff and Johnson’s book freed our minds, and as Neo discovers, getting one’s mind freed can be an uncomfortable experience. The basic concept behind Metaphors We Live By is that metaphors are the fundamental construct of human thought. This concept was not entirely new to us, but we quickly discovered that the scope and scale of humanity’s reliance on metaphor is shockingly large. The book explains that metaphors do not simply make things more interesting or easier to understand— metaphors actually are understanding, and it is almost impossible to think in non-metaphorical terms.

After showing that virtually all our thoughts and understandings are based in subtle, often hidden metaphor, Lakoff and Johnson go on to explain, “The primary function of metaphor is to provide a partial understanding of one kind of experience in terms of another kind of experience.” The key word here is “partial.” No metaphor is a complete and comprehensive representation of reality.

Metaphors are Mindfunnels

[edit on 19-1-2009 by HunkaHunka]

posted on Jan, 19 2009 @ 03:08 PM
reply to post by HunkaHunka

I find this subject fascinating. The combinations of letters /words infinite in their possibilities , yet we are limited in our imagined use of them.

To name something is certainly a powerful act.

I wonder if some of these leaps of mind , grappling with seeming abstract thoughts are originally the product of an accident in our brains neurology.
Asperger's/ Autism / synaesthesia being the extremes of the spectrum.

Here is a part of a UTube video , featuring U.C.S.D Neurologist Dr. Ramachandran .

He believes we are all sufferers of mild synaesthesia......and this explains how we create and represent metaphors in the brain.

A condition in which one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another, as when the hearing of a sound produces the visualisation of a colour.

posted on Jan, 19 2009 @ 04:29 PM
reply to post by UmbraSumus

Given that a metaphor is literally understanding something in the terms of something else, I would say that the Good doctor might be on to something.....

posted on Jan, 26 2009 @ 12:44 PM
That was a great topic...

Because some people are grown hearing metaphors canned with limiting beliefs, because advertising use it all the time and because we can alter our emotional state just by changing the words we use. I think I learn that after reading a book of Tony Robbins.

Do you study NLP?

posted on Jan, 26 2009 @ 01:14 PM
Great thread, S&F and everyone should read this.

I'm also one of the few that realize how much of a crutch to us metaphors really are. Our entire languages consist of nothing but metaphors, arbitrary sounds that we associate with equally arbitrary thoughts.

I think this is partially the reason why dedicated monks take vows of silence. They realize how corrupting language is to the mind on a very subtle, almost imperceptible level.

posted on Jan, 26 2009 @ 01:32 PM
Good stuff! The same kinds of discussions can take place on the nature of language, itself. After all, words are themselves representations...the word "apple" is not an apple. (or take for example Magritte's painting: This is not a Pipe.)

This 'conspiracy of the mind,' as you say also implies that there is no inherent understanding or in-born truth; everything is understood in relation to something else. To borrow from Hamlet, "...there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison."


posted on Jan, 26 2009 @ 01:49 PM
but trying to understand the world without using metaphors is like bailing water with a sieve

okay, bad joke, but the premise is good. because, as vault-d has pointed out, language itself is a metaphor, as is math and even thought itself, it is impossible to understand the reality we perceive without using metaphor.

early thought processes, in toddlers, is thought to constitute categorisation of objects by shape, size and colour. dyslexia seems to be formed at this stage where the brain learns to use partial information to construct a mind model of the object.

and then there is a school of thought that attributes autism to a gap in the ability to associate ones own thought processes to those of another, which might be described as metaphoric thought, in a way.

in one regard i can see the limits of metaphorical thought but on the other hand i think a large proportion of human genius lies in the ability to view one problem through the metaphorical lens of another.

to think other than metaphorically is to think in a different manner, is this manner an improvement or a disability?

posted on Jan, 26 2009 @ 02:12 PM

Originally posted by pieman
to think other than metaphorically is to think in a different manner, is this manner an improvement or a disability?


What's crazy is that you can build mental constructs (using metaphors) that approach an understanding of the Thing That Comes Before Metaphor... and then seeing its image there, recognize it without the constructs.

Zen Buddhism is all about this!

posted on Jan, 26 2009 @ 02:18 PM
I agree with the fact that you can only conceive what your mind can jumble together. It is quite hard to formulate an Idea if the foundation isnt solid.

I often get overwhelmed when I start a new project in Bryce 5 if i dont already have an idea of what i want to do because the possibilities are literally endless.

Im a beat maker, and sometimes i use an MPC, But once again, simply programing the buttons with sounds I like takes a very long time, because the sound I have in my head is usually quite hard to program and very different from its default set, and i usually end up with a compromise in my audio quality because of my lazziness and lack of Pro gear.

Metaphors are great, but they can basterdize the concepts you exploit through them, if by nothing more than over simplification. I know analogies are sligtly diffrent, but still play upon a central unification if ideas;
Fry: Usually on the show, they came up with a complicated plan, then explained it with a simple analogy.
Leela: Hmmm... If we can re-route engine power through the primary weapons and configure them to Melllvar's frequency, that should overload his electro-quantum structure.
Bender: Like putting too much air in a balloon!
Fry: Of course! It's all so simple!

posted on Jan, 26 2009 @ 02:20 PM
reply to post by bsbray11

but if we look at everything as a separate entity not understood in relation to anything else then it would take a longer to learn everything. we must first learn and understand before we can add.

for instance, how can we understand the complexity of the universe without the metaphoric language of math.

posted on Jan, 26 2009 @ 02:44 PM

Originally posted by pieman
but if we look at everything as a separate entity not understood in relation to anything else then it would take a longer to learn everything. we must first learn and understand before we can add.

I agree, and this state of mind you are wondering about is often referred to by Buddhists as the infant's state of mind. It is blank, waiting to be impressed upon. So the level that is missing is the one that comes before understanding, the understanding of understanding itself or what have you. It is the concept of Zen itself.

As soon as we are born here in the West we are impressed with nonsense. Things that aren't harmonious, that don't make much sense, that aren't healthy, etc. etc. Money, war, greed, capitalism, television, big businesses, etc. We don't realize them as such because we don't know any better. Especially our mental habits, our ways of seeing things, and thinking, are corrupted, and this is really the crux of the whole matter. We need to be broken back to the level of an infant again -- as an adult -- to rebuild our worldviews based on what we are actually seeing.

The way to start this, is to first realize we really know next to nothing. In fact, that's what I like to assume in any situation until I can begin to make sense of things in my own head: I know nothing. What am I doing here, now? I do not really know. If you think you already know something, how are you ever going to learn differently, and perhaps correctly?, rather than be wrong for the rest of your life? You don't know!

Zen koans try cracking the "logical" mind by using its own tricks against itself, too:

When Banzan was walking through a market he overheard a conversation between a butcher and his customer.

"Give me the best piece of meat you have," said the customer.

"Everything in my shop is the best," replied the butcher. "You cannot find here any piece of meat that is not the best."

At these words Banzan became enlightened.

And a return to less complicated and more natural modes of being:

After Bankei had passed away, a blind man who lived near the master's temple told a friend:

"Since I am blind, I cannot watch a person's face, so I must judge his character by the sound of his voice. Ordinarily when I hear someone congratulate another upon his happiness or success, I also hear a secret tone of envy. When condolence is expressed for the misfortune of another, I hear pleasure and satisfaction, as if the one condoling was really glad there was something left to gain in his own world.

"In all my experience, however, Bankei's voice was always sincere. Whenever he expressed happiness, I heard nothing but happiness, and whenever he expressed sorrow, sorrow was all I heard."

posted on Jan, 26 2009 @ 02:56 PM
Language and metaphor are the limits of your world.
Does that mean you should avoid language and metaphor?
It means that you should you them as an interative process in processing ideas and understanding the universe.

And infants mind awake is in a constantly state of Delta Waves.

[edit on 2009/1/26 by Aeons]


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