conduit metaphor

The conduit metaphor is a very powerful ontological metaphor that makes choices appear to be subordinated to predictions or pre-fabricated channels. That is, no choice is possible except if it has been supported in advance by a priori frameworks and most such choices are obviated by physical resistance. Departure from the conduit causes pain and cannot be advantageous.

It is very applicable to the built environment, which relies for instance on the concept of having a fixed hall,(street or road along which it is easy to move. If one tries to move in a built environment but not along the line of the hall, street, or road, it is not only very difficult but involves doing damage to property or at least trespass. Thus the conduit metaphor is reinforced by property rights assumptions, lot lines, and so on, that follow the conduit.

Those that do exploit non-path features of the conduit that are not intended but an accident of form, say living under bridges, become trolls, even anonymous trolls. They are easy to observe under the Bloor Viaduct.

All personal conduct theories and any code of conduct that requires "higher standards" of niceness than prevail in the population at large are an application of conduit metaphors to personal communications: those who follow strictly in the paths go faster, and those who do not are abandoned. Speed is so desirable that it outweighs most or all forms of dissent.

More abstractly, "within objectivist linguistics and philosophy, meanings and linguistic expressions are independently existing objects...:
  • meanings are objects
  • linguistic expressions are objects
  • linguistic expressions have meanings (in them)
  • in communication, a speaker sends a fixed message to a hearer via the linguistic expression associated with that meaning

On this account it is objectively possible to say what you mean, and communications failures are a matter of subjective errors: since the meanings are objectively right there in the words, either you didn't use the right words to say what you meant or you were misunderstood." - page 206, Metaphors We Live By

All statements are thus falsifiable at least in principle. This is the theory of object-oriented programming, and of most philosophy of mathematics and philosophy of science.

Strong belief in the conduit metaphor has led to scientific method, but is also thought to lead to a number of errors that, if carried into politics itself, become oppressive in the extreme. Among them the belief that any Panopticon can be benevolent, all of its implications known and controlled, or the Mutual Assured Destruction theory that there are simple known paths to major decisions that can be anticipated and limited via fear of the bad outcomes of an unanticipated choice.

When many conduit metaphors are imposed strongly on a people that has previously not been organized according to it, this is one meaning of "to colonize": to remove the potential to negotiate another non-conduit path or make unknown choices. To decolonize is often to remove those artificial conduits of thought and open the way to other forms of critical thought, e.g. trolling and the intellectual integrity of trolls that comes with it.