Metaphors in Action: Thought and Action

Assignment 1

Read through Thomas Kuhn's essay on the difference between the way Aristotle conceived physics and the way Newton conceived it. Summarize carefully Kuhn's argument about why Aristotle seemed to make so many statments that were not true (mistakes, errors, or falsehoods) but in fact did not. According to Kuhn, how did Aristotle's "mistatements" come into existence? Do Aristotle's ideas cohere, in the way that Lakoff and Johnson talk about coherence, with the cultural values of his time?

What metaphor does Kuhn use for "matter" (i.e., physical bodies) in trying to explain to us how Aristotle thinks about it? Make a list of the things that Aristotle sees as "like motion" in a way that is even "more than metaphorical." Could we conceive of motion that way? Even if we can see human development (growing up) and displacement (moving to a new place) as the same in some ways, do we habitually conceive of them as identical kinds of things? Why not? What ideas about human beings (who they are at any given moment) follow from thinking about matter, including the human body, as a sponge?


Assignment 2

Review your assignment from Module 2 on Henry Adams. Read through Ceclia Tichi's account of the use of mechanical man as a metaphor. Did Henry Adams agree with capitalists who wanted to increase production by making humans behave more efficiently -- i.e., behave like machines? Did Adams use the metaphor "man = machine," and, if so, did using it encourage him to depart from his consciously held belief that productivity is inhuman? How did the use of the "man = machines" metaphor affect people's worldview in the U.S. in the early 20th century?