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View Diary: Book Review: George Lakoff's "Whose Freedom?" (185 comments)

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  •  Let's overcome the misunderstanding (0+ / 0-)

    As I've pointed out elsewhere in the thread, the nurturant moral worldview is not a frame, nor is it a Lakoff-recommended message or narrative. It is a term for certain conceptual structures that become wired into our brains as we are nurtured in a family setting.

    Lakoff doesn't -- and I don't -- recommend it as a frame. Thinking this misunderstands the the entire body of Lakoff's work. However, I respect the concern and hope I am helping answer it. The occurence of the misunderstanding means we need further explanation, so I hope this thread is doing that.

    It is the values that flow from nurturance -- equality, social responsibility, fairness -- that are important. There is really no question that the two ideal prototypes of modern family organization -- authoritarian strict father and nurturant -- help prepare our moral worldviews, worldviews we then map onto the social and political spheres.

    But nurturance is not a recommended frame. It is a name for the alternative to the Dobson child-rearing formula of punishment, obedience, discipline.

    •  How can you hope to "explain" it? (0+ / 0-)

      That's old-fashioned rationalistic thinking.  You just need to give us the right frames and we'll see it.  JK (sort of).

      I don't think that the only point people are making is that it's a bad political message.  I think it's a bad description.  To be sure, everyone is influenced by the way they were brought up.  And there are indeed archetypal parent-types.  However, these are mundane observations not a theory.  To get a theory, you inflate the importance of these mundane observations to make them central in political decision making.  The anti-rationalist point expressed (quoted in top post) seems to be that we must appeal to more basic/base modes of understanding rather than practical, evidence-based argumentation, to shift folks' political perspectives.  I think that the anti-rationalism arises out of a narrow, overly enthusiastic focus on select metaphors (and an illicit reification of a semantic category into neural structures--but that's a more theoretical point).  I still believe in rational, pragmatic approaches to persuasion, and I think that the promising role that the web has for democracy is that it can facilitate the spread of information and provide a forum where good arguments can prevail, not that it offers an opportunity to "reframe" our discourse.  JMHO.

      •  except the theory tests (0+ / 0-)

        You say, "an illicit reification of a semantic category into neural structures..." Cognitive science is proving empiracally that those structures you consider illicit are there, are active, produce results, have consequences. There's not room in a comment box for all the literature.

        And the observation about the mapping of family roles and metaphors onto politics is not mundane, though its consequences are quite often overlooked. The Nation As Family metaphor, from  motherland, fatherland, father of our country and so on, is ubiquitous.  Philosophers and cultural anthrolopologists have long made similar observationf about the transition from family to complex political organizations. History contains hints enough, as in strict father Calvinists and Lutherans rejected Erasmus' child rearing manual because it recommended empathy instead of discipline and obedience.

        •  Well. (0+ / 0-)

          I didn't say that any structures were illicit.  What I said was illicit was identifying a neural structure using a semantic category such as "metaphor".  I'm not going to take that conversation further because we will both be very quickly over our heads.  I have the first hint of graduate education in philosophy of language, but not enough understanding of neuroscience or phi mind to carry forward competently.

          As for the second thing: I acknowledge the importance of a variety of metaphors in a variety of ways in our culture and its history, but I object to the strong claim that those metaphors are so basic to our cognition that the notion of rational persuasion through evidence and argument must be jettisoned.  If Lakoff's not making that strong claim then I'm mistaken about his program.

          •  realism, not irrationalism (0+ / 0-)

            No, Lakoff doesn't make the strong claim that "rational persuasion through evidence and argument must be jettisoned." However, he's no Kantian, no believer in Universal Reason, to say, justify the Moral Law.

            Anyway, while it's the case that much of our thinking is unconscious, that metaphors, frames and their entailments do work as Lakoff says (the word elephant evokes images of floppy ears, long trunks, big feet etc.), Lakoff argues specifically that understanding this improves rationality.

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