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The cloves of wit : an investigation into the intelligibility of political metaphors Rayner, Jeremy David


In recent years, philosophers of social science have drawn attention to the contributions of suggestive models or metaphors to political understanding. In doing so, they have suggested a distinction between models or archetypes of great scope and generality — politics seen as mechanical or organic relations, for example — and the individual metaphorical utterances in which they are presented. Historians of political thought have made a similar distinction between 'languages' or 'ideologies' which prescribe norms and conventions for political argument, and the expression and development of these languages and ideologies in texts. This dissertation shows these two developments to be complementary by investigating the extent to which political languages or ideologies are themselves made up of suggestive models of political activity. Taking our point of departure from Max Black's suggestion that a metaphor be seen as "the tip of a submerged model," we shall look for such models in groups of political metaphors sharing the same theme. Analysis of the concept 'metaphor' shows that understanding a metaphorical utterance is conditional upon a reader recreating a context in which the ground of the metaphorical identification is rendered intelligible by the point of the utterance. This distinguishes political metaphors from metaphors used in explanatory' or literary contexts. The principled strategies which authors and audiences use to produce and comprehend metaphors in political contexts are then shown to utilize existing conceptual classifications in the form of 'metaphorical fields' embedded in political discourse. These fields bring together abstract metaphor themes and concrete political doctrines to create political metaphors. In a field, the political value of 'imagery' — medicine, theatre, parts of the body or family relations — remains relatively fixed. Using illustrations mainly from metaphorical fields in which politics is seen as a therapeutic activity, political metaphors are shown to functions as maps, orienting men in a political world that is their own creation.

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