Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The problem with the developmental holarchy lens

From Lakoff and Johnson, Philosophy in the Flesh, Chapter 1:

“For the sake of imposing sharp distinctions, we develop what might be called essence prototypes, which conceptualize categories as if they were sharply defined and minimally distinguished from one another. When we conceptualize categories in this way, we often envision them using a spatial metaphor, as if they were containers, with an interior, an exterior, and a boundary. When we conceptualize categories as containers, we also impose complex hierarchical systems on them, with some category-containers inside other category-containers. Conceptualizing categories as containers hides a great deal of category structure. It hides conceptual prototypes, the graded structures of categories, and the fuzziness of category boundaries."

This is the crux of the developmental holarchy lens/metaphor, itself only one of a multitude of lenses/metaphors. Its inference structure indeed hides a great deal of other categorical structures discussed in the book. While this lens is useful and consistent within its own limited inferential structure, it is inconsistent with other equally valuable metaphorical inference structures. L&J make clear there is no one structure that is the foundation for the others. Hence the problem is that we take the holarchy lens to be the defining context within which all others must be contextualized, often based on some metaphysical premise that it's the way reality itself is organized.

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