Edited by Pascal Fischer and Christoph Schubert
[Journal of Language and Politics 13:2] 2014
► pp. 234–254
A cognitive approach to early conservatism
Conservatism is notoriously difficult to define. In the present study, conceptual metaphor theory is used to elucidate the nature of this ideology in its early phase when it emerged in England as a force struggling with the ideas of the French Revolution. It can be shown that conservative authors frequently do not conform to the pattern of orientational metaphors described by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson (1980), according to which “up” is usually regarded as positive and “down” as negative. Conservatives often associate their own ideas with depth or a downward movement, whereas the loathed ideas of the political opponents are related to height or an upward movement. This dichotomy is closely connected to the polarity between solidity, stability and weight on the one hand and gaseity, volatility and lightness on the other. The study bases its analysis on numerous political tracts, pamphlets, and novels from the 1790s and early 1800s.