The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 7, 2007

Philosophy of Culture(s)

Elaine Botha
Pages 21-25

Rethinking Root Metaphors
Re-enchanting a Disenchanted World

The powerful images of the events^ of 9/11 have made an indelible impression on the world psyche. It has given rise to a pervasive rhetoric in practically all fields attempting to explain, interpret and understand the underlying causes and world changing consequences of the events. In a post-modern and secular world it has led to a refocusing on the religious fervour and ideals at work in established religions and in movements that are ostensibly devoid of all religious motivation, such as expansive globalization and American free enterprise capitalism. I argue that similar ideological and "religious" notions are at work in the conflict of worldviews represented by this historical event. In order to substantiate this claim and an identification of the ideological sources of the malaise at work in the world requires a clear distinction between religion, myth and ideology and the legitimate role played by constitutive root metaphors in culture, science and society. Root metaphor analysis reveals the underlying 'war of worlds' at work in the foundational symbolizations of the world (Gibson Winter, 1981) which function as fundamental building blocks of the "cultural cosmologies" of society (Harrington, 1995, 360). It is not only religious convictions that shape the world but the choices of metaphors by scientists, educators and politicians are not random and innocent but fraught with root metaphorical notions as religious as those of their ostensibly secular counterparts and thus laden with frameworks that dramatically alter the perception of phenomena and the behaviour and actions of groups. Harrington's (1995) analysis of the role of holism in the shadow of the Third Reich shows this very clearly. Recognition of the presence and influence of root metaphors of an ideological nature will contribute to the dies-enchantment with their allure. This paper attempts to develop a methodology on the basis of which it is possible to distinguish between the legitimate function of root metaphors in science and society and their hypostatization.