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Potential Misuse of the Conveyor Metaphor

Recognition of the circular dynamic essential to its appropriate operation (Part #1)


Augmented version of arguments in Psychosocial Energy from Polarization within a Cyclic Pattern of Enantiodromia. To be published in an abridged form under the title Misuse of the Potential of the Conveyor Metaphor: recognition of the circular dynamic essential to its operation in Journal of Futures Studies: epistemology, methods, applied and alternative futures, 12, 1, August 2007, August 2007, pp. 109-130


Introduction
Conveyor belt metaphor
Management challenge to "conveyor belt" thinking
Cognitive "twist"
Comparison with the Great Ocean Conveyor Belt -- and the Gulf Stream
Paternoster lifts and caterpillar tractors
Educators as knowledge conveyors?
Linear view of time: another conveyor belt?
Population conveyor -- towards Armageddon?
Challenge to comprehension
"Ocean of Emancipation"
Global Conveyor, Rainbow Serpent and Ouroboros
Representing the set of spiritual traditions
Mapping spiritual traditions onto ocean currents: a tentative exploration of possibilities
Plasma conveyors and cognitive fusion: the interfaith challenge?
Right of return: an "identity conveyor"?
Spiral staircases and screw conveyors
Conclusion
References

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Introduction

The "conveyor belt" is used metaphorically in the light of the common experience of people conveyors in enclosed public spaces. However the experience of such conveyors obscures important dynamic characteristics fundamental to the viability of such technology. These features may be understood as a vital enrichment of the metaphor to preclude dangerous simplifications in the dynamics of situations where the metaphor is typically applied.

In developing this argument, a comparison is made between the application of the metaphor to spiritual development, to market operation, to linear time, and to an understanding of the operation of ocean conveyors -- most notably the Gulf Stream. In all these cases the impoverishment of the metaphor, as currently used, fails to reinforce an understanding of a vital circular dynamic (with its necessary transformative "twists"). These may be essential to more insightful strategic responses to situations, such as the drugs trade or population dynamics, where the metaphor may typically be used as a simplistic explanatory device -- reinforcing articulation of simplistic strategies.

The following critique of the "conveyor" metaphor is in the spirit of the extensive analysis by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson (Metaphors We Live By, 1980)  of the implicit cognitive framing associated with common use of the "container" and "conduit" metaphors.

aming associated with common use of the "container" and "conduit" metaphors.


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