Behind Metaphor, More Metaphor

Dalrymple answers here the charge by the University of California-Berkeley’s George Lakoff that conservatives win arguments not by offering evidence, but by popularizing tendentious metaphors like “tax relief”. As always seems to be the case with such epistemological accusations, Lakoff is himself shown to use such metaphors:

Professor Lakoff uses the term ‘progressive’ freely. Now there is a framing metaphor if ever there was one. What person of goodwill could possibly be against progress, that is to say betterment of the human condition? So if you are a person in favor of progress – in short, a progressive – only the malevolent could disagree with you.

However, there is a rather large question begged here, namely ‘What is progress?’…It is possible for reasonable people to disagree.

Professor Lakoff’s typology, at least as reported in the Guardian, is extremely crude. Both progressives and conservatives are deemed to be of one mind, of one opinion on everything, hence the Manichaean struggle between them. To take only the conservative camp, it is obvious that that there are different and highly conflicting forms of conservatism. To imagine, as the professor appears (or is made to appear) to do, that all conservatives believe only in unbridled and unscrupulous exploitation of the environment in the name of profit and care only for economic efficiency as measured by the profits of corporations, and devil take the hindmost, is a delusional travesty. Whether a person who believed in only those things, if such a person existed, could be called a conservative at all is doubtful, for what would actually be conserved under this imagined (though impossible) dispensation?

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