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#24343 - 11/20/07 10:58 AM Argument is war; thus forum becomes battle ground.
coberst Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/04/07
Posts: 369
Argument is war; thus forum becomes battle ground.

It seems to me that the forum members who participate in a thread approach the experience invigorated with much the same attitude as does a boxer entering the ring or a soldier going into battle.

Metaphor entailments (to transmit or to accompany) we live by:
He attacked my argument.
I have never beaten this guy in an argument.
If you do not agree with my statement then take your best shot.
I shot down each of his arguments.

We approach a forum response much like we approach a physical contest. We have a gut feeling about some things because our sense of correctness comes from our bodies. Our “gut feeling” often informs us as to the ‘correctness’ of some phenomenon. This gut feeling is an attitude; it is one of many types of attitudes. What can we say about this attitude, this gut feeling?

“Metaphors we live by”, a book about cognitive science coauthored by Lakoff and Johnson, says a great deal about this attitude. Conceptual metaphor theory, the underlying theory of cognitive science contained in this book, explains how our knowledge is ‘grounded’ in the precise manner in which we optimally interact with the world.

“The essence of metaphor is understanding one kind of thing in terms of another…The metaphor is not merely in the words we use—it is in the very concept of an argument. The language of argument is not poetic, fanciful, or rhetorical: it is literal. We talk about arguments that way because we conceive of them in that way—and we act according to the way we conceive of things.”—Lakoff and Johnson

Let us say that in early childhood I had my first fight with my brother. There was hitting, shoving, crying, screaming, and anger. Neural structure was placed in a mental space that contained the characteristics of this first combat, this was combat #1. Six months later I have a fight with the neighbor kid and we do all the routine thing kids do when fighting.

This is where metaphor theory does its thing. This theory proposes that the characteristics contained in the mental space, combat #1, are automatically mapped into the mental space that is becoming combat #2. The contents of combat #1 become a primary metaphor and the characteristics form the fundamental structure of mental space combat #2.

This example applies to all the experiences a person has. The primary experience is structured into a mental space and thereafter when a similar experience is happening the primary experience becomes the primary metaphor for the next like experience. This primary metaphor becomes the foundation for a concept whether the concept is concrete experience or abstract experience.

What I am saying is that for some reason the Internet discussion forum member considers engaging in a forum thread is a competition, it is a combat, and the primary combat metaphor is mapped into the mental space of this forum experience and thus the forum experience takes on the combat type experience. It seems to that is why lots of forum activity gets very combative.

Is it any wonder that the adrenalin starts pumping as soon as we start reading the responses to our post?

Do you feel like you are in a battle with me after reading my claims?

Is this why most replies are negative?

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#24344 - 11/20/07 03:34 PM Re: Argument is war; thus forum becomes battle ground. [Re: coberst]
TheFallibleFiend Offline
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Registered: 06/08/05
Posts: 1940
Loc: http://thefalliblefiend.blogsp...
I seldom discuss on the net about my work or the people I work with, and even less often with any detail, but here goes.

I am more or less a free agent where I work. I get to pick which tasks I want to work on. I can even make a case to my boss for internal research funds to work on my own ideas. Currently I'm working a number of different projects for different divisions.

One of the projects I'm working on is extremely difficult - perhaps the most difficult problem I've ever worked on. And yet it's also the most exciting and the most enjoyable. I'm the main technical guy, but without a PhD. My main team members are 3 PhD physicists, 1 phd computer engineer, and one guy with a master's degree in foreign policy.

Once or twice a week we reserve a large conference room and beat the crap out of each other. We each present and argue things through. Several people in the group have left - people set in their ways who believed that everything they knew was "the truth." We go through our work on projector, we draw/redraw/re-redraw on a huge white board and annotate.

We are not disrespectful, but we do ask hard questions.
How does that work?
How do you know that fact?
Is that the right number?
Is there a way to simplify that?

It's a LOT of work and it was some effort to pull the team around to this way of working - but I think we all realize now that the direction we were heading before was wrong, partly because we all had different assumptions and talking through the problem made all of us aware of our assumptions.

Arguing and criticizing do not have to be antagonistic.

However, that is not to say that antagonism is never justified. If someone came habitually late to the meetings, never did their homework, refused to answer questions, became belligerent when asked to fill in details - or if they came to the meeting and wanted to discuss wall-paper or car repair, they would be asked politely to leave the party. If they showed up at the next mtg, it could be embarrassing for them.



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#24346 - 11/20/07 08:41 PM Re: Argument is war; thus forum becomes battle ground. [Re: coberst]
samwik Offline
Megastar

Registered: 10/10/06
Posts: 1164
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By: coberst
Argument is war; thus forum becomes battle ground.
It seems to me that the forum members who participate in a thread approach the experience invigorated with much the same attitude as does a boxer entering the ring or a soldier going into battle.
“Metaphors we live by”, a book about cognitive science coauthored by Lakoff and Johnson, says a great deal about this attitude. Conceptual metaphor theory, the underlying theory of cognitive science contained in this book, explains how our knowledge is ‘grounded’ in the precise manner in which we optimally interact with the world.
“The essence of metaphor is understanding one kind of thing in terms of another…The metaphor is not merely in the words we use—it is in the very concept of an argument. The language of argument is not poetic, fanciful, or rhetorical: it is literal. We talk about arguments that way because we conceive of them in that way—and we act according to the way we conceive of things.”—Lakoff and Johnson

What I am saying is that for some reason the Internet discussion forum member considers engaging in a forum thread is a competition, it is a combat, and the primary combat metaphor is mapped into the mental space of this forum experience and thus the forum experience takes on the combat type experience. It seems to that is why lots of forum activity gets very combative.

Is it any wonder that the adrenalin starts pumping as soon as we start reading the responses to our post?
Do you feel like you are in a battle with me after reading my claims?
Is this why most replies are negative?


What a neat observation. Thanks for the tip on the book.

I think one could easily use other metaphors. I get the adrenaline rush (hence the addictive quality of the experience) even when I agree with someone. To me it is more like a mental chess match or even a sort of mental dancing (too flowery of a metaphor?).

And there is the Art of the Battle; graceful, choreographed, fluid, yet structured, constrained, and parametized.
It's like evolving, too.

"Life's a Campaign" (Chris Matthews) doesn't just refer to political campaigns, but ...ala war campaigns... as a metaphor.
~
_________________________
Pyrolysis creates reduced carbon! ...Time for the next step in our evolutionary symbiosis with fire.

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#24349 - 11/21/07 10:12 AM Re: Argument is war; thus forum becomes battle ground. [Re: samwik]
coberst Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/04/07
Posts: 369
sam

The referenced book uses the argument is war to start their description of the nature of linguistic metaphor and also of conceptual metaphor. Conceptual metaphor is a revolutionary idea that is difficult to comprehend in the begining because it is such a unique concept. However if you stick with it you will discover a whole new way of thinking about human knowledge and understanding and the nature of truth and reality.

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#24359 - 11/22/07 11:13 PM Re: Argument is war; thus forum becomes battle ground. [Re: coberst]
samwik Offline
Megastar

Registered: 10/10/06
Posts: 1164
Loc: Colorado
I'm very intrigued by your assessment of the book (and it's idea). I've already started imagining what could fit that bill; and I have to admit I'm seeing how inextricably we're tied to our limited formative metaphors. I can't wait to get my little o-book (online book).

There's a lot of variety in the formative experiences that folks go thru (especially these days in the world), but I agree that (I think just because of the nature of life) competitiveness is at the base of most experience [or words to that effect]. Even fulfilling our own needs, drives, etc. is a competition (even with ourselves?).

Joseph Ellis -historian, was just talking about how, much as children first see parents as infallible (and later as the source of all that is wrong with the world), adults still use that "all or nothing" approach to understanding other's points of view (individually, and on a national level). Logic and rhetoric classes should be mandatory in high school.
_________________________
Pyrolysis creates reduced carbon! ...Time for the next step in our evolutionary symbiosis with fire.

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#24362 - 11/23/07 10:36 AM Re: Argument is war; thus forum becomes battle ground. [Re: samwik]
coberst Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/04/07
Posts: 369
sam

As I understand it rhetoric was once a staple of education and now it is hardly visible within the educational system. I think that advertisinng has replaced rhetoric as a means for persuassion.


Edited by coberst (11/23/07 10:38 AM)

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#24367 - 11/23/07 08:30 PM Re: Argument is war; thus forum becomes battle ground. [Re: coberst]
TheFallibleFiend Offline
Megastar

Registered: 06/08/05
Posts: 1940
Loc: http://thefalliblefiend.blogsp...
In medieval times the liberal arts were divided into the Trivium (the three paths) and the Quadrivium (the four paths).

The Trivium consisted of Grammar, Rhetoric, and Logic; roughly the equivalent of a modern day baccalaureate degree.

The Quadrivium was composed of Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, and Astronomy; roughly the equivalent of a master's degree.

In the classical education, this course of studies was thought to provide the student a solid intellectual foundation from which he might broach more serious studies.


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