Open Thinkering


TB871: Primary metaphors

Note: this is a post reflecting on one of the modules of my MSc in Systems Thinking in Practice. You can see all of the related posts in this category

I’ve got a couple of books by George Lakoff sitting waiting in my home office ready for me to read. I really should get around to them. Here he is explaining how fundamental metaphor is to our experience, including literally rewiring the brain.

The argument that Lakoff and others make is that some primary metaphors are embedded in the means by which we come to experience and perceive the world and how those embodied experiences then influence how we conceive, make sense of and come to know about it. These metaphors both reflect the experiences we have in the world and come to influence the mental models, frames or conceptual systems that we hold and which influence our perception. The metaphors that we use influence our mental models.

(The Open University, 2020)

When it comes to systems thinking, part of what we need to be mindful of is the kinds of metaphors and similes people use to describe the systems within which they operate. This reminds me of Gareth Morgan’s book Images of Organization.


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