Use of metaphors LO5633

Michael McMaster (
Wed, 14 Feb 1996 17:53:47 +0000

Replying to LO5547 --

David objects to my analogies for exploring trust. In this arena,
they are at best analogies and at worst metaphors. The device proves
useful again for drawing out what is being said about trust. I
consider this field - like most the psychological theories that are
popularly believed, talked about, etc - to be "pop psychology that
has us mistakenly transfixed. I've said the basis of this in earlier

But David's pursuit of the metaphor raises interesting ways of
viewing trust and validates the biological metaphor.

I am happy to pursue it using immune system and other body
relationships. The immune system appears to me to operate by
recognising "me and not-me" and attacking the "not-me". What is the
proposed relationship of this to trust?

> Your heart won't reject your liver, but your system might reject both (as
> transplants).

My system won't reject *my* heart or liver - ever. It will reject
yours or those of others. I suggest that the biological metaphor for
trust will point us to connections, communication and signalling. It
might also point us to consider how resonance based in identity is
the basis for that trust. And we can discover many ways of
organisational design, management practices and communicative
competence that encourage and even "cause" the occurrence of trust.

You see, I don't consider trust to be "fuzzy" at all. I find it
non-mysterious and able to be dealt with and/or created by numerous
means. All of these are available to ordinary human beings.

David says (and I agree with):
> Trust deals with relationships between entities, not the
> entities.

It might help to consider how a specific anti-rejection drug works.
I certainly would like to hear it. But I fear that we'll learn about
outside intervention in the system rather than the ability of systems
to create the conditions of trust.

Also, we differ on the value of metaphor and pushing them. David
> IMHO we have to push our metaphors as far as we can -- until they break --
> they are all we have to communicate in language about reality. We get into
> more trouble when we don't push them than when we do. Those that don't
> break are candidates to be turned into really helpful models.

*All* metaphors will break. The question for me is, "Can they be
useful at some level even if they breakdown at deeper levels?"

Thanks for the depth of challenge to my metaphor. Even if it breaks
down it's been useful.

Michael McMaster

Michael McMaster <>

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