Experience of Cognitive Implication in Fundamental Geometry


Anthony Judge – TRANSCEND Media Service


The question raised here is why particular geometrical forms are widely “felt” to be cognitively appropriate in the articulation of certain patterns of psychosocial action. Why are these simple forms borrowed metaphorically in this way and, since this is the case, why is similar use not made of more complex geometrical forms — potentially in more appropriate response to the complexities of psychosocial challenges?

It is useful to recognize the metaphorical use of these forms as somehow providing convenient templates for attention and its “deployment”. They somehow enable attention to be appropriately configured under particular circumstances. Whilst these are often of a very practical nature, it is clear that in their use in symbols they offer a means of anchoring subtleties and abstractions.

The approach here follows from the pioneering efforts of cognitive psychologists George Lakoff and Mark Johnson (Metaphors We Live By, 1980; Philosophy in the Flesh: the embodied mind and its challenge to western thought, 1999). The focus on geometrical forms can be understood as related to the later explorations of George Lakoff and Rafael E. Núñez (Where Mathematics Comes From: how the embodied mind brings mathematics into being, 2001).

The following argument develops themes previously explored (Geometry of Thinking for Sustainable Global Governance, 2009; Metaphorical Geometry in Quest of Globality, 2009; Engaging with Globality: through cognitive lines, circlets, crowns or holes, 2009; Geometry of Organizations, Policies and Programmes, 1992). This is partially inspired by the emphasis on geometry in the work of Christopher Alexander (The Nature of Order, 2003-4).

The context for the argument is provided in a separate document of which this is effectively an annex (Way Round Cognitive Ground Zero and Pointlessness: embodying the geometry of fundamental cognitive dynamics, 2012). The concern here is how understanding is framed and molded in discourse by appropriation of a particular geometrical form as a template for a thinking process. This preoccupation is of particular concern with regard to the articulation of the draft agenda and outcome of the forthcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio de Janeiro, 2012) in the light of the original Earth Summit (Rio de Janeiro, 1992) and its asystemic action plan in the form of Agenda 21.

The question raised is whether the widespread advocacy of the languages of “literacy” and “numeracy” needs to be enriched and completed by what might be understood as “formation“, namely insight into the manner in which form emerges and is recognized — especially with respect to the frameworks through which strategy is articulated. In addition to the more general emphasis of  Lakoff and Johnson on Metaphors We Live By (1980), there would appear to be a need for a more cognitively radical focus on the Metaphors We Organize By, or even the Metaphors We Govern By, than that suggested by Paul Holmström (Metaphors We Organize By, Management Unplugged, 11 November 2007).



This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 6 Feb 2012.

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