Sunday, February 10, 2013

Beware of Proverbs!!!

Have you ever lost an argument or got convinced with the argument based on some proverb/metaphors stated during the argument by the opponent.  Worse still, did you fret while pondering over the reason you gave up or accepted the argument for a metaphor used as substitution which may or not be relevant to the context.. If your answer is yes or if not clear with the above statement read on..

Lets say you have situation on hand. You are stuck deliberating on the road to be taken.

Option 1: A confirmed job in your own state that just about meets your expectations

Option: Moving to another country for a period of 2 weeks and looking for a job dream opportunity.

Context is King
It is quite natural that you will seek advice from your near and dear ones. Have you ever heard this metaphor from a wisecrack " A bird in hand is better than two in the bush". In that situation, this metaphor will push you into taking a safe default decision.

These are called as Generative Metaphors.They substitute for something easy to think about for something difficult.These generative metaphors gives us tangible simplified statements that acts as guidance systems for a complex situations. In complex situations, the brain looks for ways to simplify the problem and these metaphors does a convincing job.

My point is be aware of these metaphors used as substitutions.They serve as simple rule of thumb insensitive to the context in which you operate. Your context is the king and not these metaphors.


K.B. Srinivasan said...

General applicability of proverbs tempts one to quote them to make a point. Yes, you can many times end up over-simplifying or going out of context, when you quote a proverb to prove something. But I think most readers would not be so naive to accept a proverb as proof or final word that settles an argument. Interesting post, Rajesh, thanks!

Rajesh Rangarajan said...

Thanks Murali for your comment.. The behavior of accepting a metaphor as an argument is not rational but very human. This happens in stressful situations...

Venkat Raman said...

Great post Rajesh. Though it’s a small one but this thought keeps on coming thousand times in a day as our days have hundreds of cross roads waiting for a decision to be taken.

Normally our mind takes the route that has been used by many than the route that is yet to be used and add to its choice it seeks some approval from something/someone, there comes the “Quote”. As you said, we should not become a prey to the quote and limit ourselves instead prove something difficult and different by walking in a road that has not been chosen before and become an ideal for others to quote:)

Rajesh Rangarajan said...

Well Said Venkat. Good point