The problem of worldview in cognitive science concerns how high-level conceptual structures govern lower-level interpretation, emotion, reasoning, and discourse. Due to this top-down influence, when worldviews conflict people often literally cannot understand the “other side,” and may attribute their beliefs and values to non-cognitive causes (personal interest, conformity, ignorance). “Culture wars” arise when moral-political worldviews compete. Thus the study of worldview is central for communication and social dynamics as well as individual cognition.
Research on the role of the body, emotion, and imagination in thought and language has led to a “second cognitive revolution.” Metaphor and narrative are now recognized as core cognitive structures. An influential linguistic analysis sees the contrast between political worldviews as based on models of the ideal family, which get applied metaphorically to the nation. Liberalism has a “nurturant parent” model, conservatism a “strict father” model. However, while the role of metaphor in worldview has been studied extensively, the role of narrative has been overlooked. Further, the fundamental links between metaphor and narrative in discourse are only beginning to be studied. I will contribute to this research by developing models of two further worldview structures. First, I will develop contrasting models of the body as a moral ideal (flexible and open vs. strong and rigid), and as a political metaphor (the Body Politic). Second, I will develop contrasting models of basic story types, or genres—comedy and tragedy—as sources of structure for key event-concepts in moral-political domains: concepts of the origins, course, and destiny of human life, the family, society, and the world.
I will develop and refine my models in the light of the texts that first formulated modern liberalism and conservatism: the political discourses of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Smith, Burke, Godwin, Wollstonecraft, Paine, and Malthus.
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Funding SchemeMC-IEF - Intra-European Fellowships (IEF)