Americanism’s Society Metaphor

Our understanding of the society we inhabit is also guided by metaphor. Our social interactions, our goals, our style, our group affiliations, our self-imposed limits, our ideas of social virtue and vice, and more are defined by the society metaphor we have unconsciously assimilated.

Americanism’s society metaphor was the Society is a Wilderness metaphor:

Society is a Wilderness Metaphor
• Society is a Wilderness
• Humans must civilize the wilderness.

Traditional Americans assimilated this metaphor, again inherited from western civilization, as part of their worldview. They saw society as a wilderness and believed they were obligated to civilize it – the physical wilderness of early America, the wilderness of the unenlightened and sometimes dangerous cultures they encountered, and the inherent wilderness in their own society deriving from human nature. The Society is a Wilderness metaphor generated unconscious entailments like “civilization must be defended from barbarism,” “it is virtuous to fight for civilization,” “wildness must be tamed” and others.

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