Thursday, June 16, 2011

Reflection on Metaphors

We think, we breathe, through images.

Often, when we try to convey or communicate ideas, we rely on propositional logic: for instance, "if A, then B." But this mode is not how we process ideas internally. Our minds operate on images, associations, and pattern recognition.

In other words, metaphors are the fuel of the mind.

Such metaphors wield immense power over our ability to reason, and their influence is almost entirely unconscious. We do not recognize the extent of the images and mental associations that are inspired by almost everything we perceive. Indeed, I would say we cannot. Our conscious minds are simply not robust enough to account for everything that needs to be accounted for.

Even when we recognize metaphors consciously, we may find ourselves unable to consciously reject them.

This could be for any number of reasons. Reason is a faculty by nature, but a habit by use. If we are not accustomed to using the muscle of our mind, we will find such intellectual heavy-lifting strenuous or perhaps even impossible. Like stalagmites rising from the floor of a cave, thoughts and paradigms may grow organically though they quickly become calcified. This is one of the reasons pure or 'objective' rationality is effectively impossible

Another reason why we may be unable to consciously dispose of mental metaphors is the lack of any ready alternatives. For images are not something we can simply 'do without.' If metaphors are the fuel for our minds, then we cannot consciously reject one set of metaphors without immediately replacing it with another. Yet this is a process that often requires a good deal of prior reflection and consideration.

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