Thank you for the fascinating account about the research by the Princeton psychology professor Adele Goldberg into how fundamental metaphors, sometimes expressed as clichés, exert a powerful hold over the imagination and over feelings (On the Campus, February issue). She is contributing to an extremely valuable field of research with a well-established pedigree. Apparently the central role of such “base metaphors,” as they have been called, was first articulated toward the early 1930s by Arnaud Dandieu, political thinker and writer who also explored the psychological insights of Marcel Proust. Dandieu’s ideas were developed further by his friend, the brilliant phenomenologist and psychiatrist Dr. Eugène Minkowski, who explored the concept in Vers une Cosmologie: fragments philosophiques (1936, Towards a Cosmology: Philosophical Fragments). The linguist George Lakoff and the philosopher Mark Johnson would, independently of their French antecedents, articulate the notion, which they termed “conceptual metaphors,” popularized in their Metaphors We Live By (1980) and in their subsequent books and articles. Lakoff’s Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think (2002) and Your Brain’s Politics: How the Science of Mind Explains the Political Divide (2016, written with Elisabeth Wehling) are particularly relevant for understanding today’s political culture. Indeed, as these authors have shown, the effects of base metaphors are far reaching.
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