February 20, 2007

Metaphors for human society

George Lakoff's brillant insight was in finding that humans use metaphors to shape their worldviews. While the "strict father" metaphor fits well what we observe for the conservative worldview, the biggest problem with Lakoff's framing has been the feeling that the "nurturant parent" metaphor he's defined for the liberal worldview is too strongly associated with gender roles. The other day while perusing the comments of one of Maha's excellent posts, I found an interesting series on another set of metaphors that describe the values driving the conservative and liberal worldviews that gets past the problem with metaphors that are too strongly gender based.

lucidity posted his five part Monkey Morality: Five Criticisms of George Lakoff's Political Metaphors series on dKos last September. The following titles are my synopsis of what each part covered.

Strict Father ==> alpha male society

Why doesn't nurtuant parent model feel right?

Evolutionary theory led to two models: competition and cooperation

How about using cooperation as a model?

How the Cooperative Community model works

Just as Lakoff had mapped the priority of moral values that come from his thesis, lucidity provided the following metaphors for defining the cooperative commuity moral values:

  • Morality is Working Together (we all share the same goals)
  • Morality is Making Alliances (we're stronger when we band together)
  • Morality is Fair Play (everyone plays by the same rules and no one gets to take advantage of the group)
  • Morality is Sharing (it's wrong to have more than you need when others don't have enough)
  • Morality is Assistance (we take care of everyone)
  • Morality is Inclusiveness (there's room for everyone)
  • Morality is Tolerance (we all have to live together)

The nice thing that lucidity did is to map worldviews based in evolutionary theory onto how human societies operate rather than how individual humans operate.

I really like the way lucidity's models work. And one thing s/he does is reclaim the truly liberal values our nation was founded on as captured in our Constitution. Our country is based on the belief in the rule of law, in playing fair, in civil rights, in everyone having a voice, and in cooperative alliances. Our strength is based in our liberal values.

What do you think?

Posted by Mary at February 20, 2007 07:09 AM | Community | Technorati links |