Metaphors enliven ordinary language. People get so accustomed to using the same words and phrases over and over, and always in the same ways, that they no longer know what they mean. When a child looks up at the sky and does not know the word “star” he or she is forced to say, “Mommy, look at the lamp in the sky”. Metaphors give maximum meaning with a minimum of words, they create new meanings; they allow you to write about feelings, thoughts, things and experiences freely. “Critical thinking is the ability to be in control of one’s thinking. It includes the ability to consciously examine the elements of one’s reasoning, or that of another, and evaluate that reasoning against universal intellectual standards - clarity, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, breadth, and logic” (Brookfield, 1989).
People who present their reasoning to one another are engaged in a kind of competitive struggle. The point is to win, as judged by convincing others to believe as you believe. Reasoning, therefore, is judged successful by reference to the goal of persuasion forcing people to believe what you want them to believe, especially if they do not want to believe it and resist doing so. The goal is to prove who is the most skillful thinker.
I believe the metaphors we use reveal our assumptions about how the world works. We use them because they feel right, and that feeling of rightness is based on our experience of the world. On the other hand, our attitudes and feelings influence our experiences in the world. So, attitudes and experiences are mutually influencing. Assumptions are a particular kind of attitude; they generate expectations, which sometimes are self-justifying. Since metaphors are one way we reveal our assumptions, they are useful to people into critical thinking. I think metaphors are wonderful for revealing personal assumptions and attitudes, but for logic-language we need to use words literally and not metaphorically.
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