Oiy. I get more question marks. I am never gonna beat the curve in this class.
The Lakofff narratives are opening positions for me, places to start and that's it. But after that, they quickly get in the way (for me). The methods, on the other hand, they're endlessly useful, durable and portable.
I look forward to Lakoff demonstrating that I am wrong. But...they are sure taking their time over there.
But Lakoff does use the family as the basic "structure" of his architecture. Nothing linguistic about the family. So on that basic level (and I agree that Lakoff does push for that), he locates the family.
For example, he could have used the workplace as his basic structure. Or he could have used Biblican examples. Or he could have used animal species. Or he could have used military styles--just about anything could have worked in the place of Lakoff's basic distinction. But he chooses the parent-child relationship as the core of his system.
I agree, in Moral Politics he wants this basic parent-child structure to be the beams of the house. But I come going back to that and wondering why he chose that particular example.
I think first off we need to acknowledge that Lakoff, before Moral Politics, was not a linguist who worked at the level of narrative. He worked at the level of the phrase, the sentence and was almost entirely concerned with the relationship between individual words. This comes through in his presentation style when he worked with Johnson. He's a "list" maker. Lists of individual sentences.
And I think he readily acknowledges that his drive to organize the political findings into some kind of comprehensive narrative came less from his research and training, then from one of his students who pushed it to that level.
So of all that we find in Moral Politics, the two parent structure is the most "un-Lakoffian" element. It's his attempt, I think, at an answer that is beyond his initial brief as a linguist.
What he did, then, is what all scholars do in this situation. He reaches for those grandest of grand theories and asks himself, "What does a really substantial answer look, feel and sound like." Now, I don't know that he reached for Freud, per se, but I do know that Lakoff is part of a branch of linguistics that sees itself reaching out by necessity towards the humanistic side of the Social Sciences. And I'm guessing that he also read The Elementary Structures of Kinship by Levi-Strauss--which is a theory also built on the back of a core parent-child relationship.
I think the approach is suggestive. Very much so. But personally....I think the power in Lakoff is his approach to metaphor, not his big picture narrative. And that probably says more about who I am than who Lakoff is.
My impression is that Lakoff's model is an adaptation of Freud. In other words, it's not a cultural argument at all, and so it gets more and more tenuous the further we move from the point at which Lakoff first set it up.
The perspective I'm pushing is symbolic anthroplogy (Schneider): I'm looking at the terms that these people are using on the ground and trying to build an explaination up from them. So, right now it's about the death of fetuses in the womb and a feeding tube in a PVS woman's stomach.
Remarkable how close together these issues are, in terms of the landscape of the woman's body, eh?
And this leads me to think--actually--that the death penalty might be a separate issue altogether. That Lakoff's attempt to put it all in one package might not be entirely right. And--most importantly--that the opening for a response will emerge by focusing on the abortion and feeding tube issue. In there lies the key, I think, to our response.
Not all of the right is willing to kill or stand with people willing to kill doctors. This is a distinction that I don't see room for in Lakoff. And in terms of framing the issue, I think what defines this particular culture that we see on TV is the willingess to kill a doctor.
I think the reason abortions are so horrible to these militants is because unborn babies have not yet taken on original sin. They are pure. The reason Schiavo has become such a focus for these folks is because of the love of the mother vs. the infidelity of the husband. The death penalty is used to protect the innocent (the rest of us) and only when a person's soul has been damned by their own choices. And the sick child is on life support because of the sins of the parent, from which the child's death is the only certain return to purity.
While I find Lakoff's model fascinating (obviously), I think it's seriously incapable of dealing with what's happening on the grond right now--even the sections on moral vs. immoral forms of religion.
We are dealing with a cultural system here with an internal logic that negates state definitions of life and death based on divine schemes.
Even more specifically: I'm starting to believe that the revolution led by these religious militants in the Schiavo case is targeted against medicine as an authority over life and death. When they talk about a "culture of death" they mean doctors and only doctors. And they've murdered doctors, so they see it as a divine battle.
I actually don't think the :stric parent: stuff is useful, here. The parallel I see, for example, is trying to understand the laws of kashrut. They make no sense from the outside. Only from the inside.
...The ultimate point is that the more sophisticated your thinking, the less you fall for reasons that are obviously inadequate....
I'm going to dissent from this point, because I tend to think about sophistication of thought in terms of layers and the ability to move between them deftly, rather than a specific approach. If we say that the most sophisticated thinkers are those who can move between liner, systemic, etc. (as you demonstrated in the diary), then the real question is when is linear thought actually isolated vs. linear thought as strategic.
Right now I'd say the most sophisticated system thinkers would be people like Ralph Reed--able to understand not only the broader system of relations, but also the methods of promoting a particular slant on that system through articulations of simplistic linear themes. And we've got some serious schadenfreund building amongst the Democrats who can see it happening, but can't figure out how to master that dexterity, yet (not that I envry Reed per se, but part of the reason I hate him so much is definitely because he is sophisticated).
I haven't read Kegan, but based on your synthesis: it sounds like a fairly straight forward theory of class. The higher up one is in the system, the more ability one has to see one's place in the system (I know there's much more to Kegan than that, but...). I suppose the ability to both know and be one's social role depends on whether or not one can move between social roles--which is a luxury of class position. This brings me back to the most horrific concluson of all: Bush is the most sophisticated of us all! This is because he can move between the levels outlined almost effortlessly, and nobody has ever been able to truly understand if he is or is not doing this consciously.
Good lord, thinking of Bush as a sophisticated thinker is almost too much to bear! But I'm afraid it's true.
But I'm not yet convinced that we have non-systemic thinking in this case.
This Schiavo case seems like a cultural puzzle that we haven't solved, yet. And here's the question:
What cultural system or logic can accomodate militant anti-abortionism, ferverent use of the death penalty, passionate belief in maintaining feeding tubes for PVS women, and support for legistlation that forces indigent children off life-support?
That's the puzzle, right? And damn if it isn't a hard one to crack.
But if we listen to these religious militants on the picket lines, there is a multi-linear cause and effect that they seem to be articulating.
I think it might be a missionary logic, rather than a world of appearances. The precise problem in abortion and in Schiavo, for example, was the belief by the Right that both fetuses and Schiavo were "life." The key to the success of the Schiavo campaign was finding a method for visualizing that life (those crackpot videos), but the image is not the logic. The logic comes through these defense of the voiceless narratives.
The logic of "life" in these situations that are marginal (at best) to defined states of citizenship--that's the challenge the right faces, and the Schiavo case was a good way to get it across.
Now, the death penalty operates the same way. The transformation that cannot be seen (according to the Right) in these death penalty cases involves mortal sin. Once mortal sin has been committed, the same rules to do not apply. These prisoners may look the same, but they have violated laws that make them less than worthy of protection by universal human rights. And so, again, appearance is a problem for the right. This problem was solved by Bush senior with the Willie Brown ads against Dukakis, which again visualized the systemic view of the death-worthy criminal that the right holds.
So, I see systemic thinking in this. But the argument laid out by Rosenberg (and Rosenberg) is still incredibly interesting.
The "dictator" and "totalitarianism" phrases were in the debate, but not in the text of this bill (Florida House 837). That may seem like a minor point, but the bill is actually very similar--almost identical to the earlier bill put forward in Ohio.
These bills don't defend against "leftist totalitarianism," per se, but they promote the University as a place where students must be protected from teachers who introduce controversy into the classroom.
The counter argument is that the presence of controversy in the classroom is a sign that academic freedom is thriving in a university.
Saying that a student needs to be protected from controversy in order to experience academic freedom is a bit like saying that a quarterback needs to be protected from practice in order to win in an actual game. The whole point of university education is to give students the ball over and over and over again in challenging ways where they can get it wrong and still not get hurt. Then, by the time they leave the safe environment of the classroom, their minds have become sharp enough to throw touch-downs in the real world.
Oh...there are many things I'm not telling you. But a $10 million budget!?! You'd be the first to know.
I've run out of ideas on how to reach out to Alex, here. I don't think this discussion has anything to do anymore with framing or Lakoff or Feldman or science. It's a stalled conflict resolution. So, I'm getting up from the table. I thought we could all move to common ground at first, but it doesn't seem like that's going to happen. Maybe it will in the future.
I found similar demands from him on other sites that I justify myself. They're all very sharp and confrontational, about me rather than the ideas in the article.
On occasion, I get angry comments, emails--even phone calls--from readers who feel I haven't responded to their inquiries or questions fast enough. They are right. I don't always respond fast enough.
There is also the question of comment style.
I remember my first few posted comments on dKos, just before the election--they were much more aggressive than they should have been. It took me a few tries to strike a blance between substance, creativity, and respect. Maybe that's what's happening here, too.