The way individuals perceive and ascribe meaning from their surroundings depends majorly on the aspects that define the way of life. In this context, scholars have identified various concepts to establish these arguments. Lackoff and Johnson have identified the use of metaphors, myths, and experientialism as basic ways of influencing the perception and meaning of human activities. The cultural and linguistic aspects of society also have an effect on the way how individuals interact; this goes a long way to affect the derivation of meaning and creation of understanding of various things. This essay will focus will on the three basic concepts identified by Lackoff and Johnson in relation to the class text Friend with the aim to explain the awareness and understanding of the perception of family and friend.
Lackoff`s and Johnson`s ideas of Conceptual Metaphor
Metaphor is a form of picturesque language, which is often used by individuals on a daily basis. This is notable in the way how people frame their words and arguments. Conceptual metaphors thus have been referred to the existence of two domains, such as: the source and the target from which individuals derive meaning to understand each other. For instance, the views of life as a journey or arguments as a form of war, these domains are further derived from individuals` experiences. Kovecses (2010) in his book identifies a relational existence in the linguistic and conceptual metaphors. He acknowledges that the linguistic aspects of metaphors are manifestations of the conceptual metaphors, that is; the way we talk reflects the way we think (Kovecses, 2010).
Lackoff and Johnson (2003) view the concept of metaphor as an essential part of the human life. This concept has typically been referred to be characteristic of language; however, the two scholars view it as a matter of human action. Our actions and thoughts are said to be coordinated with metaphorical concepts. For instance, the way we view arguments as being similar to war. The way we act and do things automatically following certain routes without being conscious of the same reflects the metaphorical aspect of the way we live and communicate. Lackoff and Johnson (2003) argue that the way of human thinking is usually metaphorical. That is to say, the way people view things and process the meaning of things. For example, the reference of love being a journey, “We have come a long way.”
In this context, the way we view and understand our family and friends mostly is derived from the way others influence our thoughts and behavior. Family is generally taken to refer to a unit of society that comprises a group of items, which shares a common origin. According to the two scholars, the metaphorical concept of a family can be taken to refer to a relational existence. When individuals refer to others as family, general conclusion will be that they are related in a certain way to each other. This concept seeks to include contributions of others in a social setting. When we refer to this term, the imagery created on the minds of others is that of a single unit consisting of different individuals. In other instances, this term can be used to refer to the classification of different things: animal groups or plants.
The concept of a friend is also generally taken to refer to helpful individuals. A friend is often considered as a sole individual often ready and willing to help. In the context of metaphors, human literature has taken this to be a universal term to refer to people with good intentions towards others. For instance, in calling or referring to another as my friend, means that two individuals have a historical relationship, which lead to the formulation of a lasting relationship. The meaning of this word, however, depends on the context where this word is used. For example, it could be used to refer to an initially referred person or to someone often turned to in times of need.
Thus, trying to understand the concepts of family and friends, Lackoff and Johnson (2003) argue that individuals draw their meaning from the cognitive understanding and influence of the societal definitions. It means that we often draw our understanding of literal words from the way our minds have been socialized to think. When people refer to themselves as family or friends, we conclude that there exists a form of bond between them. This could be by relations formed through their interaction or by the fact that they are related through their ancestral linage. The two scholars have identified the way how different words can be coined to mean various things. Thus, when referring to family or friend, it is important to note the contextual use. This will enable one to obtain the original meaning of any interaction.
In reference to the Friend’s text, the metaphorical use of the broken necklace has been used to refer to the broken ties of society. In their search for the lost beads, which in this case can be said to refer to the lonely individuals in society, the family sets out on a mission to provide companion for the loners. In this case, through interaction of these individuals; in this case the man in the apartment, the family seeks to provide companionship and a sense of belonging to the man; the lost bead. In the same context, the idea of a family as constituting different personalities is emphasized.
In addition, the concept of a friend as someone who is always there to guide and accompany us is demonstrated in the Friend’s text. This is portrayed in the way the family is always ready and willing to incorporate others in their circle. They identify themselves to the man in the apartment as friends. It shows that the concept of a friend demonstrates individuals that are not out to cause harm. For instance, despite threatening to summon up the police, the family stays calm and does not cause the man any harm in spite of their outnumbering him, they just want to offer him company.
However, the way these words are used in specific contexts is what will determine the meaning drawn from it. For instance, having identified the supposed family and friends, it is easier for another individual to understand what or who is being referred to. Alternatively, using two words in different contexts will only seek to create more confusion and misunderstanding. It is, therefore, essential for individuals to define their contextual references before embarking on its use.
The Myth of Experientialism
Myths have been identified to provide ways of understanding in life. Similarly to metaphors, they tend to define and explain the way things are. In the myth of experientialism, Lackoff and Johnson (2003) identify truth as an alternative in life and disagree with the concept of objectivity and subjectivity as being the only options. The concept of metaphors tends to offer a relational coexistence between reason and imagination. These two aspects have been identified to be fundamental in the creation of meaning. In this context, the myth of experimentalism appears to hold that truth is comparative to an individual’s conceptual system. This has been noted to relate to the experiences of individuals and others in the same cultural surrounding.
Human beings using myths have attempted to clarify the universe as well as the dissimilar phenomena surrounding them. According to Armstrong (2005), mythology extends the human beings’ scope. Lackoff and Johnson (2003) hold that myths are both objective and subjective. These myths offer means of understanding experience; they make our lives orderly. Just like metaphors, they are important in creating sense of things happening around us. All cultures are in possession of myths, which individuals cannot do without, but they can function without metaphors. Lackoff and Johnson (1980) advocate the experientialism myth, which fails to reject external as well as internal understanding of aspects; for these authors, there is neither absolute truth nor completely unlimited imagination. The experientialist myth upholds the man’s perspective as a part of the environment, but does not separate him from it. It centers on regular relations with the physical environment as well as other people. The myth views this relationship with the environment as entailing mutual transformation. According to Lackoff and Johnson (1980), no one can function without transforming the environment or being transformed by it.
The experientialist outlook is consistent with the complexity paradigm, which is a novel means of comprehension highlighting the dynamic interconnections between the phenomenon components nested in the physical environment. The novel paradigm harmonizes a sequence of complexity approaches, which encompasses the theories that see the study object as a dynamic system comprised of interrelated elements.
From the above discussion, we infer the way, people interpret things around them, is what creates their meaning of the world. The experientialism myth acknowledges that individuals are unable to operate within an environment without getting affected or affect it. It means that, the constant interaction and involvement with certain factors and aspects in the environment are bound to influence our perception and judgments of certain things. In this context, the way we view the concept of family and friends is dependent on the way society and our interaction with it has influenced our view and understanding of the same.
Despite the role played by the objective and subjective myths in trying to define our understanding of the world around us, the experimentalist myth has provided a clear view of the way we derive our meanings and understandings. Friends are a major component of the human life, they influence and affect the way individuals understand things. Our reactions and interaction with specific aspects in our environment depend majorly on the way others influence us. Through interaction, individuals share their perceptions and understanding of various concepts of life. This could include the explanation of why things are the way they are. Eventually, we are affected by these views and ascribe to the same views. The way others view family as a unified unit of society and friends as an essential part of interaction will affect our perception of the same and change our understanding.
In essence, we can also affect the way others think. The experimentalist myth argues that either interaction with the world will change our views or we will change its views through constant interactions. Human beings are generally social beings. By this, no man can be said to hold an individual perspective to the way things are or to the understanding of the same. The experimentalist myth provides the freedom of choice between what is true and what is not. Despite the effect that these interactions have on our understanding and perceptions, it is upon us to choose what to believe as true and what not to believe. Friends may change the way we perceive the concept of family and friends, however, we have a free will to decide whether their understanding is true or not.
In the text Friend, the family appears to influence each other’s perception and meaning of things they meet. For instance, in the place where the man calls the grandmother a ‘cat burglar’, the family seeks to define this in an objective manner that does not seek to offend anyone. This can be said to be in support with the myth of experientialism. That is, people derive their meaning from the interaction they have with others and their environment.
Abercrombie`s idea of Schemata
Abercrombie provides the explanation of the way information is added via our perception. She debates that interpretation is an extremely complex task that people have been learning to do from the time of birth. Every person has a dissimilar means of interpreting what we see since we usually connect our experiences when trying to interpret. Therefore, each person has a means of construing according to one’s personal experiences. Abercrombie in her debate expounds two significant concepts, namely, schemata and context. The concept important for our discussion here is schemata, which she defines as the way our minds link our experiences as well as reactions to the novel things we identify through seeing. In the text Friend, the man is locked in a cage and asked to reflect his daily activities; this helps him change his attitude and character. In essence, the concept of the family for individuals is to help one another and try to bring the good out of them. When the man contemplates an escape, the middle daughter seemingly steps in and calls upon the help of other members of the family to help the man view things in a different way. They try to explain to him that escaping from one’s problems is not the solution to it. One should be able to face the problems as they present themselves with the help from those that care for them as family.
There are times when people see things that fit their expectation and their schemata, their experiences help them to interpret. However, when people see things, which are dissimilar from their experiences and unanticipated, their schemata may at times confuse their minds, thereby leading to misinterpretation. This implies perceiving things the way one wants them to be. A good example of the function of schemata could be seen when some people fail to swim, because they connect water to drowning. Therefore, when they think of swimming, they see themselves drowning. This is the way we understand our family and friends through identifying their perception as well as thoughts. It helps to recognize events as well as objects. We interpret what others perceive to make conclusions, which helps to understand those around us (Beatriz, 2004).
Conceptual metaphors are often derived from the cognitive standings of individuals. This can be said to bring about the conceptual schemata, which enables individuals to derive a mutual understanding from the meaning of their interaction. According to Beatriz (2004), this concept is majorly derived from the cultural context in which these metaphors operate for individuals to be able to derive their meaning. The way people in different cultures view and perceive certain concepts determine the way they understand it. For example, in a culture that perceives an argument as war, focus will be put on the way the individuals conduct their arguments. Similarly, in one where this aspect is viewed as an act, individuals will engage in arguments that seek to achieve a certain goal (Beatriz, 2004).
Cultural background plays a major role in the way in which individuals construct their meaning of various aspects. This also determines the way people react and adapt to situations around them. Taking the case of an interaction between individuals from different cultural upbringing, the way that one defines the concept of a family will be different. In most cases, individuals ascribe to their original way of thinking and this usually affects the way the environment influences their perceptions. This contradictory setting is also evident in the works of scholars who refuse to acknowledge the reference of life as a journey. However, to establish an understanding, there is a need for negotiations. This helps to establish a common understanding between the interlocutors (Beatriz, 2004).
In the same way, the perception of family and friend differs accordingly depending on the cultural background of the individuals interacting. Personal experiences also play a vital role in shaping the way we perceive things and ascribe meaning to them. Whereas some families may refer to the basic unit of the society comprising of blood relations, others may view this as a group of individuals who have come together with a common goal to achieve. For instance, in the text Friend, the family describes itself as a communal set up where individuals stand up for each other and offer support as well as share opinions that enable them to come to a common understanding. These situations call for the need to be patient (Beatriz, 2004).
In summary, metaphors, myths, and experientialism in relation to Friend’s text help in understanding the concepts ‘friends’ and ‘family’ through enhancing our conception. Metaphors can be described as a kind of picture which is often utilized by people every day. Metaphors help to structure our perceptions, thoughts as well as our actions. Metaphors in this context are well-explained by language, which defines cultures and helps us understand them. This is revealed by the way we frame our words and arguments. Our thoughts are reflected in the way we talk thereby enhancing our understanding of the environment, which includes our friends and family. On the other hand, myths offer ways of comprehending life. They explain and define the ways are just like metaphors. The experientialism myth identifies truth as an option in life and differs with objectivity as well as subjectivity concepts, as being the only alternative. The experimentalism myth appears to hold that truth is comparative to an individual’s conceptual system. This has been noted to relate to the experiences of individuals and others in the same cultural surrounding. From these aspects, it is clear that individuals perceive and ascribe meaning from their surroundings depending on the aspects that define the way of life.