Re: Metaphor and Mental Models

Daniel Aronson (
Tue, 20 Dec 1994 03:25:23 +0001 (EST)

Metaphors structure our perception and thought more than we realize.
Steve Robbins is probably right about war as a structuring metaphor for
business - and it is also the structuring metaphor for argument ("He shot
down my arguments" etc.). When two people (or more) engage in an
activity in which they trade ideas without trying to "win" or "defeat"
the other(s), we can't think of it as an argument (though other cultures
have other structuring metaphors for argument): if the object is to find
truth rather than to win, we call it "dialectic" or something else, but
not argument. And the metaphor of a building for knowledge:
"foundations" of the theory, etc., is also a prevalent but unnoticed

Further metaphor analysis ("to break into constituent parts" - shows how
the metaphor of ideas as material things is also structural) can be found
in _Metaphors We Live By_ by Lakhoff and Johnson. An excellent book.

Daniel Aronson <>