TITLE

Knowledge as Metaphor: Problems and Perspectives for KM

AUTHOR(S)
Steen, Gerard
PUB. DATE
January 2010
SOURCE
Proceedings of the European Conference on Intellectual Capital;2010, p545
SOURCE TYPE
Conference Proceeding
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
The recent interest in the metaphorical structure of knowledge in knowledge management can be seen as one instantiation of the more general cognitive-scientific interest in the metaphorical structure of abstract concepts in many domains, including education, science, politics, and health. The general development is largely due to the cognitive-linguistic postulation of conventional metaphorical structures in all thought, called conceptual metaphors (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980), which have since been studied in many different ways. Thus, the metaphorical structure of emotion concepts has been extensively analyzed by Zoltán Kövecses (e.g., 2008), which could provide a useful source of inspiration for a similar exercise regarding knowledge concepts for researchers interested in knowledge management. However, a number of problems with the cognitive-linguistic approach have also been noted over the past thirty years. Thus, the problem of what counts as a metaphor in language and other codes of expression has led to methodological work on linguistic metaphor identification. On a related the note, there is the problem how linguistic expressions can be reliably related to underlying conceptual metaphors, so that it is clear which metaphorical model, exactly, is being used when people speak or write in particular metaphorical ways. For instance, when they use expressions like win, defend, or lose in the context of argumentation, do they conceptualize argument as sports, fighting, war, or yet something else? Moreover, the fact that language data can be analyzed, both linguistically and conceptually, in such a way as to point to specific metaphorical meanings does not automatically suggest that these structures are in fact mentally represented as metaphor by individual language users: psycholinguists have formulated fundamental criticism of this conclusion and offered alternative models. This, in turn, has led to a new interest in deliberate metaphor, of which it may be assumed that it is mentally represented as metaphor. Deliberate metaphor forms one subset of all metaphorical structures in language and thought, and may be the most essential set of metaphors for communication (Steen, 2008). This novel perspective may offer a useful starting point for knowledge management researchers to review the research on metaphor in language, cognition, and communication in order to apply this research to the more specific questions they have about the metaphorical structure of knowledge. In this paper I will offer such a three-dimensional view of the role of metaphor in knowledge and its management in order to pinpoint a number of problems and perspectives for empirical research.
ACCESSION #
49549056

 

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