Sunday, June 21, 2009

building on metaphor

If you study George LaKoff's works on metaphor, you begin to realize that all of our abstract intellectual components were originally based on real world experiences. We use metaphor to extend our conceptual range toward comprehension of abstract phenomenon. For example, Albert Einstein used his observations while waiting on passengers to arrive on a train to conceptualize the unique qualities of light.

It was amazing to me as I was learning to sail over 30 years ago, how many everyday concepts and how much modern terminology was derived from the real observed phenomena and nomenclature of sending a boat forth through wind and water. Have you ever felt adrift? Perhaps this conversation will do that to you. I hope not, but that it helps you to better chart your course.

One of the additional benefits of involvement in craft is the catalog of metaphorical concepts it provides through which to comprehend abstract thoughts. Then through involvement in crafts, one sets the pattern of examination, comparing by habit, conjecture with reality. I have this very clear notion that if we were still a nation of craftsmen and makers engaged more strongly in creative reality, our economy would be far stronger than it is now and we would be doing far less damage to the environment.

Lena Woods is a Montessori school teacher and enthusiast who writes a blog Educating for Life that my readers may enjoy. Also, can daydreaming help to solve complex problems? Probably so.


  1. ...all of our abstract intellectual components were originally based on real world experiences.

    What else could abstractions be based on?

  2. How about what you read on the internet? Do you accept other people's word for things, or are you inclined to test things on your own?

  3. I don't deny their reality Doug.

    They can be badly mistaken or total liers but they are real in the sense we're all real. They are not abstractions. A lying or a mistaken voice is still a very concrete thing.