You are here

Developing a Metaphorical Language for the Future


Developing a Metaphorical Language for the Future
Cognitive function of metaphoric language
Defining the future through the senses
Importance of the choice of metaphor
Metaphoric traps in sensing the future
Metaphoric games conditioning policy
Developing a metaphoric language
Reframing institutional futures
Configurations of metaphors
Specific application

[Parts: Next | Last | All] [Links: To-K | From-K | From-Kx | Refs ]

Orginally prepared for publication in New Thinking for a New Millenium: the knowledge base for future studies Routledge, 1995. edited by Richard Slaughter. A variant appeared in a special issue of Futures April 1993, pp. 275-288


Understanding and communicating complexity calls for a new type of language. The urgency of the times suggests that there is little time to learn it. In effect people need already to have some competence in it. The proposal is that this language should be based on metaphor. This paper briefly recalls some of the cognitive functions of metaphor in shaping perceived reality. It then goes on to consider features of language which tend to condition ways of approaching the future -- even to the point of being considered metaphoric traps. The concern is to highlight unexplored opportunities for reframing attitudes to what may emerge, whether as problems, organizations, information systems or conceptual frameworks. It is those forms of metaphor that enhance or constrain individual or collective strategies that are of prime interest.

The focus here is on issues in English. The challenges are multiplied many-fold when other languages are taken into consideration -- especially when it is assumed that translations between languages do not raise fundamental conceptual issues (1).