Most exciting opening, continued

To continue my thoughts on Philosophy in the Flesh:

Yesterday, I addressed my interest in the idea that abstract concepts are largely metaphorical. Today, this holds my interest like the world holds a man - he may move to one side or the other, he may see many other things, but he is still within the world. I turn around, and there again is the idea, haunting me like the ghost of Socrates, unreal phantom of a potentially fictional philosopher.

I've always suspected that abstract ideas are largely metaphorical, or at least have a largely metaphorical structure. The way we operate within them seems to make them even more metaphorical. When I speak of an abstract concept, such as "freedom", that word means something to you - but what does it mean? It is more than a metaphor, but a metaphor for what? With what image? Perhaps that is the strong use of abstract concepts- they contain no inherent image, but still inspire an imigaic structure, or at least alight the imagination.
When I say, or better yet, when William Wallace says "Freedom" do we think of Wallace's struggle for freedom, or do we think of our own freedom? Could it be that abstract concepts are ultimately a means of inspiring tight sympathies, by allowing us to place whatever specific image we want into someone else's word. When Wallace (or Bush, for that matter) call us to fight for freedom, it isn't their freedom, we would be unlikely to fight for it if it were, it is our freedom, it must be felt, be imagined, as our freedom.

This leads me to thoughts on literature - and how abstract concepts work in literature. Literature, especially modern film literature, presents us with specific situations which demand our symapthy with the protagonists, through specific situations which limit their abstract rights or desires (freedom, as in Braveheart or Shawshank Redeption, Justice, in Philidelphia, Amistad, or The Green Mile, friendship and family, as in Shaun of the Dead or, in an odd way, Unforgiven.) but these abstract rights are not abstracted and made to apply to us, they are rather specified to those others. This could lead, if I put more time into it, I think, to a thought about the purpose of literature which would be a reversal of Aristotle's catharsis idea.

Aristotle thought that the ultimate purpose of tragedy is to purge us of pity and fear, so that we may fight. I think that the purpose of literature, tragedy or comedy, could be to put us into other's shoes, so that we can imagine what they go through, and will be more likely either to fight for them or not to fight against them. The purpose of literature therefore would not be to expel from us pity and fear, but to impregnate us with symapthy.

That, at least, is the beginning of some philosophical ponderings.

What think you?

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