Thursday, November 8, 2007

Are We Their Therapists?

Dear Colleagues,

“Are We Their Therapists?”

Are they ours?

Gk therapeia: service;
therapeutiko: one who

“therapy:”: the treatment
of illness or disability.

the sickness unto deaf


And since people think
in metaphor, the key to
understanding human
thought is to de-construct
those metaphors.

Or at least call them out
and put them in play,
assuming they’re not
guarded like a treasure
horde in a house of

People disagree because
they frame a problem with
a different metaphor and
make a mess of their lives
because of the implications
of these frames, which they
use without awareness.

I make a mess out of my life not
because of my metaphors and
how they mix-it-up with yours,
but because I'm basically dis-
agreeable. Naught-ing by
nature. Depraved, I admit
it. Twisted.

A linguistically informed…
criticism is key to resolving
conflict and frustration from
psychotherapy and law to
philosophy and politics.

If I were agreeable we, any two
or three of us, might could
probably work-thru the maze
of controlling metaphors and
hidden operating assumptions
and come up with something
new-for-us here & now our
emerging phenomena &
local food-back..

Therapeutic edification.
Rebuild the templates.

There are GOOD reasons to
be disagreeable. I’ve got
principles, my directional
navigational algorithms
(dna) to protect, cherish
—hand over heart.


The phenomenon of framing.

Many disagreements in human
affairs turn not on differences
in data or logic but on how a
problem is framed.

My bias & belief systems constitute
my Frame of Minding; prejudices &
convictions shape & organize how
I walk though a field or mall, read a
book, watch a movie, respond to a
colleague. My rationed analyses serve
my homeland security system; data &
statistics—tokens for my tautological
servo-mechanism & affective homeostat.

We think in metaphors grounded in
physical experience rather than in
logical formulas with truth values.

Ships and stones and sealing wax
and my students wonder: are we
going any WHERE? Covering
ground? Merely circling round?

Can't see WHAT we're up to,

On the road, so to speak.
Canterbury Pilgrims: journey's
the destination. Wherever we
go: there we are. Can't miss it
Exquisite: to be here now.

(A former student invariably,
replied when I asked him
what HE was up to:
“About five eight.”)

Reason is not based on abstract
laws, because thinking is rooted
in bodily experience. And the
concept of objective or absolute
truth must be rejected.

Or at least classified as un-embodied.
Merely idea. Never manifest. Can’t
touch these nothings.

There are only competing
metaphors which are more
or less apt for the purposes
of the people who live by them.

That's one way to frame it, a way of
talking about ways we talk. Physics as
metaphor. And biology. All the disciplines:
majors & minors & special topics—ways
of talking: therapy.

Citizens are not rational and pay no
attention to facts, except as they fit
into [their] frames, and the frames
are “fixed in to the neural structures
of their brains.”

To Think is to grasp a metaphor:

From Steven Pinker: The Stuff of Mind &
my interruptions. Thinking is therapeutic,
though students tell me they think too
much. Not enough, I say. We’re in the
thinking business. It's therapeutic.
How else get better and good.
Need we argue?

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