We think in conceptual metaphors
In the book The Metaphors to Live By, the authors observe that we think and write and communicate in conceptual metaphors. Here are a few examples:
- Conscious is up, unconscious is down: Get up. She rises early in the morning. He fell asleep. He's under hypnosis. He sank into a coma.
- Good is up, bad is down: We hit a peak last year, but it's been downhill ever since. Things are at an all-time low. He does high-quality work.
- Argument is a building: That is the foundation of our theory. The theory needs more support. The argument is shaky, it falls apart. We need to construct a strong argument.
- Argument is a battle: Your claims are indefensible. He attacked every weak point. His criticisms were on target. We need to aim for concision. They have a strategy.
- Argument is a container: Your argument doesn't have much content. That argument has holes in it. His objections have less substance. Your arguments are empty.
- Argument is a journey: We have set out to prove that. So far, we've seen that theories will not work. We will proceed in a step-by-step fashion. We have arrived at a conclusion. We are at a crossroad.
- A problem is a body of water: He dived into the problem. He immersed himself in the problem. The problem is murky. Finally the answer surfaced.
- A problem is a region in a landscape: We've got to explore this problem. Let's map out the problem before doing anything else. We're heading in the right direction. The solution lies far ahead.
- Ideas are food: That's food for thought. We don't need to spoon-feed our students. This is the meaty part of the paper. There are too many facts to digest.
- Ideas are cutting instruments: That's an incisive idea. That cuts right to the heart of the matter. He's sharp. He has a razor wit.
- Ideas are plants: The seeds of his ideas were planted in his youth. She has a fertile imagination. Mathematics has many branches. Here's an idea I'd like to plant in your mind.