Metaphors, Morality, and Poltics

Richard Hobbs's picture

Click here for Link to article regarding Metaphors, Morality and Politics.

George Lakoff, a tie-dyed in the wool, Berkley Professor and very liberal socialist democrat, wrote this article.

I posted it here, well, because its interesting, and I imagine, because I see little resolved on these blogs. I'm an ignorant white racist who is apparently incapable of understanding how someone with little experience and a voting record more liberal than Ted Kennedy, is supposed to give us Change in America.

So I've come to the conclusion that all of these blogs and comments are nothing more than either pearls being thrown out to the swine, or sermons being preached to the proverbial choir.

My point, is that I see little use of these blogs in really making an impact on people. No more than when some gang spray paints their graffiti next to the cross town rival gang's graffiti.

However, I still would enjoy a true, unbiased debate, if that is even possible, on this fellow's article.

Its academic and somewhat laborious reading, but it is still very . . . thought inspiring.

I'd dare say, that I was very impressed with his conclusions.

So, for you political geeks out there, who know how to read, digest, and then disseminate your own ideas about these matters, please tell me your thoughts. I don't care to hear your platitudes, only your honest insight into how this fellow is either right or wrong in his opinions.

Again, the author is a bed wetting, booger eating, liberal. So, most of you libs ought to feel real comfortable reading it.

I look forward to some intellectual stimulation.

So, tell me your thoughts.

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Submitted by Jones on Sat, 04/12/2008 - 10:41am.

when the Republicans tried to kill our local school system?

I thought you were going to create your own blog somewhere in Internet outerspace. I guess no one was reading your opinions out there.

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Submitted by Richard Hobbs on Sat, 04/12/2008 - 11:15am.

I'm really confused as to what you speak.

I have little respect for the politicians that say they are Republicans and act with little respect to their principles.

Eric Johnson and Glenn Richardson are both on my short list of morons.

So I know not of what you speak.

Do I believe in school vouchers. Certainly.
Do I believe that Clayton County should be allowed to move their kids into Fayette, well obviously not.
Do I think our Republican Representatives do a good job protecting Fayette, or do I think they got caught with their pants down in the Airport bathroom tapping their foot under the stall, yes.

Politics makes strange bedfellows. Some very slick Fayette Representatives can blind you with the gleam from their smiles as they shake your hands during the election cycle. So many are extremely good at getting elected.

Learning how to govern, appears to be something many of them are still trying to figure out. Sadly, I think its not because they are not bright enough, but either too lazy, or too interested in developing future political allies for their hoped for future in D.C.

My two cents of wisdom to our local reps. Do whats right for your voters, even at the cost of your personal goals of future elected offices in D.C., when Westmoreland moves on, or Saxby or Isaackson decide to retire. If you do your jobs for us, do it right, examining every bill before you vote upon it. Consider our needs instead of what Eric Johnson seems to want, then your political future will come. Perhaps not as fast as you want, but it will come.

Political Karma. Its real.

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Sat, 04/12/2008 - 7:05am.

I dunno.

Here's another metaphor: I think the author is barking up the wrong tree.

Instead of offering an analysis of metaphors, why not just roll up our sleeves and get busy with the work of moral philosophy? What makes right acts right and wrong acts wrong? What makes a good person good and a bad person bad? This is a quest for some principle that definies the essence of morality, and here I do not regard "essence" as in the loeast bit metaphorical.

Where was this cognitive scientist's discussion of the notion of human dignity and respect-for-persons? Where is the discussion of what it means to flourish as a person and how the virtues are related to the Good Life?

His contrast between the "Strong Father" and "Nurturing Parent" metaphors to help explain conservativism and liberalism respectively seems limited.

Consider: Some fathers run their families on the principle of power; others do so on the basis of authority. Sheer power functions in a context of fear. Authority commands respect. Good fathers raise their children in virtue of their own moral authority and the obedience of their children is out of respect for their dads. Crummy fathers resort to sheer power so that the motive for obedience is merely fear.

I think that the "strong father" is the father with moral authority. But as such, he is a nurturing parent. And he may well understand that nurture is not reducible to coddling because truly to nurture one's children is to set them on a course where they will flourish, and to flourish involves a great deal more than having a basic sense of well-being and experiening pleasure. The nurturing father cares about his children's character, and so may be found at times acting with severity that is motivated by the utmost love. So I reject the author's dichotomy.

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Submitted by Richard Hobbs on Sat, 04/12/2008 - 10:51am.

I wasn't quite so critical of his opinion paper. In fact, I believed it was a unique way of looking at things. A simple way. Which is why I believed it might help explain the differences in how conservatives and liberals view the world.

Sure, its not perfect, but the examples seemed appropriate enough in which to explain to my fellow political junkies from the left, how we might relate.

I see liberals as wanting to run a nanny state. Mother Government, looking after us in our cradle, caring for us through all of the years until our grave. Sure mother's love their children and want the very best for them. But when mom's do everything for their children, the children learn nothing of individual responsibility. Nothing of personal growth, and end up living in the spare bedroom that mom provides to them, rent subsidized, food subsidized, health care subsidized.

I see conservatives being strong father figures. Teaching their kids about integrity, personal responsibility, right from wrong, and then kicking their asses out the door to become participants in life, rather than being air breathers. To play in the game called life, rather than in watching it on their T.V.s, locked away in their back bedroom that mommy cleans for you, every other day.

Liberals "feel" for their children. They really do "feel" like they want to help. I believe that. I truly do. Its just that a smothering mother governmental policy does little in encouraging a strong community of individuals. Instead it creates the 40 year old kids, tied to their mommies with a very long umbilical cord.

Its time to cut the cord you liberal mommies and let American be responsible for themselves. This is a metaphor, sad to say, I know of real examples of supposedly intelligent people who have 40 year olds living with mommy even now, who call themselves Conservatives. Strange how politics effect us in different ways.

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Sat, 04/12/2008 - 11:26am.


I confess a default distrust of discussions of philosophical and ethical topics by people in the cognitive sciences. There is a tendency to "psychologize" topics that are inherently rational and to reduce the normative to the merely descriptive.

But maybe much of the conservative/liberal difference is more philosophical. Here are some issues that seem to me to be fundamental:

Are there such things as POSITIVE rights?

Consider the right to life. Viewed as a NEGATIVE right, it is simply the right NOT TO BE KILLED. But if it is also a POSITIVE right, then it also includes a RIGHT to whatever are the essentials of life (food, shelter, medical care).

Wherever there is a right there is a corresponding moral obloigation upon someone somewhere. If you have a negative right to life, then I have a moral obligation (all else equal) not to kill you. If you have a POSITIVE right to life, then someone, somewhere, has a moral obligation to see to it that you receive whatever you need in order to go on living.

You can readily see that the idea of a welfare state presupposes positive rights.

The debate over universal health care is, I think, best framed in these terms.

I think that it is a very good thing if people have access to health care. But do they have a RIGHT to it? And is that right ABSOLUTE?
May I spend my days drinking rather than working and, nevertheless, be entitled to some sort of financial assistance paid by tax dollars? And, when my lifestyle begins to ruin my health, am I morally entitled to whatever tax-supported assistance I need in order to survive?

Conservatives tend to balk at such ideas, and, I think, for good reason. How would one begin to argue for this?

When they balk, liberals view them as heartless.

But it is possible to deny that the state has a moral responsibility to provide such things while, at the same time, thinking it a good thing when charity and grace are exercised. In this case, one might help out of a basic respect for the person's humanity, and the help is grace precisely because the person is not ENTITLED, by right, to the help.

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