Lakoff: Metaphor and War

Linguist and Cognitive Scientist George Lakoff discusses the metaphors used in framing the war in his
essay Metaphor and War, Again:

One of the most frequent uses of the Nation As Person metaphor comes in the almost daily attempts to justify the war metaphorically as a “just war.” The basic idea of a just war uses the Nation As Person metaphor plus two narratives that have the structure of classical fairy tales: The Self Defense Story and The Rescue Story.

Millions of people around the world can see that the metaphors and fairy tales don’t fit the current situation, that Gulf War II does not qualify as a just war — a “legal” war. But if you accept all these metaphors, as Americans have been led to do by the administration, the press, and the lack of an effective Democratic opposition, then Gulf War II would indeed seem like a just war.


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