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Metaphor and ideology Metaphor and ideology

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Author(s): Andrew Goatly

Journal: Ilha do Desterro
ISSN 0101-4846

Issue: 53;
Start page: 063;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: metaphor | ideology | capitalism | race | sex | 9/11 | auto-immune

ABSTRACT
Since metaphor in language and thought might be glossed as ‘metaphor and meaning’ and as ideology has been defined as ‘meaning in the service of power’, this paper explores some of the ways in which metaphor is used for ideological purposes. It begins by discussing the salient and topical metaphor themes POWER/IMPORTANCE IS HEIGHT, RACE IS COLOUR, DISEASE IS INVASION and SEX IS VIOLENCE. It proceeds to introduce the theoretical question of the extent of physiological and cultural influences on metaphor theme. To illustrate the importance of the cultural it shows how early capitalism established, selected or nurtured a constellation of metaphor themes to convey and reinforce its ideological position and how these were elaborated in a genealogy stretching from the British (economic) philosophers Hobbes, Hume, Smith, Malthus through to Darwin. This genealogy forms the basis for current neo-conservative sociobiological political and economic theories. The most important metaphor themes in this ideological project are identified as ACTIVITY IS FIGHTING, ACTIVITY (COMPETITION) IS RACE, QUALITY IS QUANTITY,and QUALITY IS MONEY/WEALTH. The paper shows how these reinforce a culture of competitiveness, survival of the fittest, and the equation of wealth possessed with personal value. It also shows how PERIOD IS LENGTH DISTANCE and TIME IS ONEY/COMMODITY were recruited for purposes of capitalist in dustrialisation. Since metaphor in language and thought might be glossed as ‘metaphor and meaning’ and as ideology has been defined as ‘meaning in the service of power’, this paper explores some of the ways in which metaphor is used for ideological purposes. It begins by discussing the salient and topical metaphor themes POWER/IMPORTANCE IS HEIGHT, RACE IS COLOUR, DISEASE IS INVASION and SEX IS VIOLENCE. It proceeds to introduce the theoretical question of the extent of physiological and cultural influences on metaphor theme. To illustrate the importance of the cultural it shows how early capitalism established, selected or nurtured a constellation of metaphor themes to convey and reinforce its ideological position and how these were elaborated in a genealogy stretching from the British (economic) philosophers Hobbes, Hume, Smith, Malthus through to Darwin. This genealogy forms the basis for current neo-conservative sociobiological political and economic theories. The most important metaphor themes in this ideological project are identified as ACTIVITY IS FIGHTING, ACTIVITY (COMPETITION) IS RACE, QUALITY IS QUANTITY,and QUALITY IS MONEY/WEALTH. The paper shows how these reinforce a culture of competitiveness, survival of the fittest, and the equation of wealth possessed with personal value. It also shows how PERIOD IS LENGTH DISTANCE and TIME IS MONEY/COMMODITY were recruited forpurposes of capitalist industrialisation.
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