Which, of many perspectives av

Under Construction


(For a background on standpoint theory, see Davies, B, Harre, R. "Positioning: the discursive production of selves", Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior, 1990, 20, (1), pp 43-63; Smith, D.E., "The Everyday World as Problematic", Milton Keynes, Open University Press, 1987; as referenced by Bagshaw, Mediation Quarterly, 18 (3) pp 205-220.). Also see I. A. Richards, "The Philosophy of Rhetoric", Oxford UP, 1936; cited in Eubanks (2000) p. 20, concluding that metaphor is better considered from the speaker's point of view. Kegan's developmental theory, extended from Piaget, talks about 5 orders of cognitive development ranging from level 1 where everything is subjective (person is "subject to" own perspective, unable to distinguish between perception and real world), through levels 2-4 that are progressively capable of making objective the real world, then the constructs used to order the world and one's perception, to a level 5 that is entirely "self-authored" and ultimately the most flexible. Making metaphor conscious would seem to require higher orders of this kind of cognitive development to understand how meaning is constructed in terms of knowledge of something else (see Manwaring, M. (2006), The cognitive demands of a negotiation curriculum, Negotiation Journal, 22(1)67-88).

If we take the cognitive development approach, and accept that conscious awareness of metaphor requires higher order thinking of a certain degree, we still have the question of how (besides brain maturity) this capacity comes into being for the individual. The language of the cognitive development theorists suggests the metaphoric interpretation of one's own and other peoples' points of view as objects or things (perhaps properties), that can be located in containers corresponding to oneself or another person (properties of objects belonging to various people)... Other metaphoric interpretations are possible, such as construction of levels, assembling structures and putting them in place, perhaps according to some scheme or design. My point is that this higher order cognitive development may occur only as the individual learns such multi-purpose metaphors, develops facility with them, etc. Are there age- or genetic-related enabling factors? Perhaps so, but learning to use these metaphors would be essential, and each person's acquisition of this beyond the conventional would depend on individual experience with them.

Whose metaphor are we attending to? Which, of many perspectives available to that person, are we attending to? Pay attention to which personís metaphor is in focus and what that person is trying to understand. It is common to switch from one standpoint to another, but avoid this (at least initially). Stay focused on one personís metaphor of one situation at a time.

For example, if two parents are talking about parenting their children, each parent has at least one metaphor operating as to the children, their needs, etc. They may have others about each other, the effect of the children on themselves, and so forth. You will uncover more metaphors as you learn to distinguish standpoints.

More Complete Treatment of standpoint [under construction]:
In a dispute there will be at least two people or entities.

A person may have more than one perspective, or be thinking about a dispute or problem in several ways. Typically we might choose to attend to:
1. The protagonist's experience (from some position, attending to something, in a context),
2. The antogonist's experience (ditto),
3. The protagonist's experience of the antagonist, and vice versa,
4. The protagonist's interpretation of the antagonist's experience, and vice versa,
5. Additional factors which add to or detract,
6. The dynamics or mechanisms that are the experience,
7. Comparisons or trends with regard to other experiences.

For example, if a person feels pressured by another person, he may speak about his experience of feeling the pressure ("I'm under pressure"), his experience of the source of the pressure as pressure is applied ("The other person is pressuring me," or "I'm being pressured..."), his interpretation of the other person's experience applying pressure ("He pressures me because..."), external factors which influence the pressure ("The pressure is worse because of all the chaos on Mondays"), the dynamics of pressure in affecting a person ("Pressure builds up when you can't stop thinking about all there is to do"), this pressure compared to another instance ("It gets worse each time I'm pressured like this," or "My life shouldn't't have so much pressure in it").

Each of these orientations can be described subjectively (in terms of immediate, here-and-now, close to one, being in it, feeling it in one's body) or objectively (there, re-presentation, more distant, a picture). [On-site and off-site seem intertwined with subjective-objective.] Metaphor may be used in either case.

In a dispute between two people, there are not simply two points of view. Each person may talk about each of the above perspectives, introducing different scopes, distance, interpretation, angles and different degrees of subjectivity and objectivity. Then there is verb tense, expression in terms of counter factuals, classes of objects, etc. which can alter perspective (or open additional cognitive domains or mental spaces).

Chronological, first-person description may be the most intuitive. Third-person observer description also is. Mosaic description works, if it is organized carefully with forward and backward flashes. Reverse order is more difficult. Scope that is too narrow or too wide is difficult.

To be understandable we had better stay with the simpler, more intuitive appoaches.

Eubanks (2000, especially ch. 3), in talking about discursive trajectory, inflection of metaphors, rhetorical etiquette, enactment, etc. -- all understood in terms of the psychological, linguistic, social and cultural environment in which the metaphors are uttered -- argues successfully that point of view or standpoint might only be understood clearly (and only for particular, concrete discourse) by knowing how it is situated historically. I conceive of metaphor as having not only the three levels stated by Charteris-Black (2004; semantic, conceptual, rhetorical) but in terms of McWhirter's life grid, Varellas scheme and Pinker [MIT psycholinguist]'s diagram.

What, how and why? Product - Process - Working the Process [maybe this should be in Elements]

"Orientation" is one word (reference point and standpoint are others) we could use to point to what NLP calls "position", what DBM encompasses with the Life Grid, SDMP, Product-Process-Working the Process, subjective/objective, on-site/off-site, etc. and Literature refers to as perspective.

Whose metaphor are we attending to?

Which, of many perspectives available to that person, are we attending to? Pay attention to which personís metaphor is in focus and what that person is trying to understand. It is common to switch from one standpoint to another, but avoid this (at least initially). Stay focused on one personís metaphor of one situation at a time.

Which personís metaphor is in focus and what is that person trying to understand?



What is the context, frame or scope?
Whose point of view are we attending to? Is there more than one to choose from?
Is it a point of view about one's own experience, someone else's experience?
Are we in the experience, or has it occured elsewhere or at another time?
Is it measurable, verifiable... (to what degree is it objective or subjective)?