Sunday, May 10, 2015

Zak Stein on better metaphors

Here's Stein's blog post on the topic. He reiterates many of the themes in this IPS thread. E.g., using the mind-as-ecosystem metaphor:

"Ecosystems are composed of a wide variety of independent and yet co-evolving species, so there is not one central 'unit' that can serve as an overall measure of the ecosystem. Rather, to understand an ecosystem you must take multiple measurements in a variety of places across a variety of time scales. Ecosystems are also sensitive and actively responsive to the larger environments in which they are nested. They can be easily disrupted and thrown off balance, but they are also generative and creative, self-regulating, and self-transcending. They are adaptable, open systems, and are constantly in a state of dynamic equilibrium. As ecosystems evolve they display non-linear growth, with jumps, dips, regressions, and daily and seasonal changes and rhythms. Their growth is not simple and linear, but messy and dynamic."

I also like this one: "[It] became clear that one of the main reasons we stick with simplistic metaphors such as the 'mind-as-computer' is because they do not challenge our status quo systems and processes." In this case he's referring to our educational system, but it applies across the board to our socio-economic systems as well. Hence we don't get challenges to that system from the kennilinguists, even defending it to the point of saying valid and accurate criticisms of it are just MGM conspiracy theories (as was the case recently in some FB discussions).

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