Essay on Metaphors We Live By written by Lakoff and Johnson

Essay on Metaphors We Live By written by Lakoff and Johnson

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Metaphors We Live By written by Lakoff and Johnson


The road goes ever on and on. Down from the door from where it began. Now far ahead the road has gone and I must follow it if I can. Pursuing it on weary feet until I joins some larger way where many paths and errands meet and whether then I cannot say.


J.R.R. Tolkien

I recently read the book Metaphors We Live By written by Lakoff and Johnson. I had always thought that metaphors, when used to illustrate logical, objective arguments, poetical flourishes, the icing on the cake, the supporting cast but never the star. I'm now convinced otherwise.

Lakoff and Johnson propose that the language we use affects the way we think and the way we think affects the language we use. I am reminded of the old saying: "As a man thinkith, so is he.S To illustrate, the metaphor of argument as war is used. If I think of argument as war then my instincts will be directed towards winning that war. Kill or be killed. I defend my claims against others and attack the opponent's weak points trying to shoot down any counter-arguments hurled at me. The adrenaline is pumping. The objective is no longer expression, but survival. Signs consistent with the metaphor will be recognized and others will be ignored.

My higher education has been built upon the metaphor of school as war. I write papers to defend a position. To win my diploma, I have to defeat my opposition; the professors. If I survive, I can leave this institution with the victorious banner of my diploma, supposedly strong enough win the battle on the outside. I have been trained to recognize those signs that enhance my success and encouraged to disregard others which could provide an alternate metaphor; such as school as practice o...


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...hings we cannot change but have to accept, all build our experiences. This umwelt of our existence structures our experiences and is what we use to create metaphors. "The essence of metaphor is understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another.S (Lakoff and Johnson, P. 5) To find meaning in our experiences we construct metaphors. These allow us to explain the past and to predict the future. Religion is a system of metaphors which helps us to create meaning out of life. To believe in a certain religion requires us to adopt it's metaphors.

While thinking about metaphors, a poem came to mind. It's the one at the beginning of this paper. The poem portrays life as a journey. The road we tread stretches out before us. Around every bend lies a new experience. The adventure is overcoming any obstacles we encounter. Ah, but that is when the fun begins.

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