Metaphors, Analogies or Norms

How did we end up filtering every fact as a metaphor or an analogy? How have norms become part of our life and metaphors taken its place in defining perspectives and prospects?
As Freindrich V. Kratochwil cited, “Norms are not only guidance devices, but also means which allow people to pursue goals, share meanings, communicate with each other, criticise assertions and justify actions. Rules and norms influence choices through the reasoning process; the processes of deliberation and interpretation deserve further attention.” Hence, norms are unwritten rules we have accepted as a culture or tradition, to belong in a certain community, embedded through generations. It defines what is socially acceptable and ethically rightful and gives us a sense of belonging. Rules and principles just formalises the norms we have been practising over centuries and has been shaped as “defining a practice” as explained by John Rawls, Concepts of Rules. In social or political dynamics, our lives have been based on strictly following the rules and practising norms to uphold values and traditions, playing a vital role in communicating what is justifiable, right and wrong.

However, over time, metaphors have played a significant role in how we communicate and engage with each other. How we describe our perspectives, emotions and convey ideas that others can visually make sense of and to better define the meaning of a given situation. Metaphors help our subconscious mind find the similarities and patterns of previous events that can then be linked to the present scenario. The trendiest metaphors in the present time are the attractive headlines of newspapers and broadcasts. Headlines such as, “The giant towers cleaning up city smog (BBC)”, “In-fighting, warnings, threats (CNN)” or “Pollution-proofing your life (CNN)” helps us frame our perceptions and interpret the subject matter of these news articles. These metaphors attract us and define our behaviours towards the subjects, which we might have been otherwise ignored. Metaphors bring out concepts and frame it in a manner that persuades the observers to alter their actions, behaviours or prior knowledge of the situation. As Lakoff Johnson stated, “Metaphor is not just language, its mere use of words” which have a persuasive power in politics. Even though there is no literal honesty to the fact, metaphors conceptualise and frames how urgent the situation is, and lays down the path

Even though there is no literal honesty to the fact, metaphors conceptualise and frames how urgent the situation is, and lays the path to public discourse of issues. Not only does it allow people to communicate through spoken language, but also the symbolic icons of metaphors give deeper meaning to observers. For example, the Statue of Liberty – symbolises a woman holding a torch to light the path (from darkness). Other metaphors consist of cartoons and political memes influencing how public assesses and maps the situations, actors and environment in one concept. One metaphor we experienced recently is President-elect Donald Trump’s “Drain the swamp in Washington, D.C” illuminating his intentions to wipe out corrupted leaders and reform the political system, “shake of the rust”, and create a better USA. Even though metaphors like this garnered a lot of support and reliable followers for Trump, plenty of metaphors directed to him by Hillary Clinton fueled an “Argument of War” between the two candidates in the campaign period. Metaphors can also act as a boomerang, as it highlights our intentions and actions for how things will be if we had it in our control.

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