Metaphors: How we Think about Human Nature

Assignment 1

List all the metaphors for the mind that occur in John Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding, published in 1690. What metaphors does he use to describe the mind's workings? What do each of these metaphors highlight or hide about how people think -- that is, what features of how the mind works do they bring into relief, make more visible, and what features do they make less visible? What other ideas about humanity and society do these metaphors entail? That is, what might be the implications of these metaphors for thinking about human nature and society?

 

Assignment 2

Read the excerpt from Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams. List the metaphors that Adams uses for human beings (students) and, implicitly, for the human minds to be educated. What metaphors does Adams use to describe how people become educated? What do each of these metaphors highlight or hide about how people think and why? What other ideas about humanity and society do these metaphors entail? Does Adams's view of human nature differ from Locke's?

 

Assignment 3

Read the excerpt from William James's excerpt from Talks to Teachers and summarize James's points. James goes to great pains to say that teaching is an art rather than a science. Make a list of the qualities of a scientist performing an experiment and of an artist creating a sculpture or painting. For James, then, if a teacher is (metaphorically speaking) an artist, how should teachers relate to their students? Now, look not at what James is saying but at how: what metaphor does he use for teaching and for students early in the essay? (Teaching = __________; students = ____________). Do you as a student appreciate this metaphor? Do you think his use of the "war" metaphor injures his argument in any way?

 

 

 

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