The anthropomorphic fallacy in international relations discourse by Carlos Escudé

    Definition of the antropomorphic fallacy

As has already been stated, the anthropomorphic fallacy in international relations discourse is a metaphor. Language is permeated with metaphors, and it is almost impossible to avoid their usage. An ad hoc classification of metaphors would include:

I. General metaphors (present in the structure of language independently of the sphere of specialization of a given discourse), and

II. Metaphors which are specific to the field of international relations, which can in turn be subjected to a double classification. One classification of specifically international relations metaphors would include:

1. Organicist metaphors, which include both properly anthropomorphic metaphors as well as zoomorphic ones, and can in turn be subdivided into:

a. those related with individual feelings (such as "honor", "pride", "dignity", etc.),

b. those related with parts of the human body or "spirit" (such as "knees", "lips", "soul", etc.)., and

c. those otherwise related to the state-as-person fiction.

2. Mechanicist metaphors (such as "bipolarity", "balance of power", "mechanisms", etc.). [2]

On the other hand, a second classification of metaphors would include:

1. Innocuous metaphors (a metaphor that helps to conceptualize through the comparison of a concept or phenomenon with a more familiar one, but lacking identifiable emotional effects, as is the case of most mechanicist metaphors), and

2. Activating metaphors (metaphors with a potential for emotional mobilization).

Given this ad hoc classification of the metaphors found in the discourse of international relations, I will define the "anthropomorphic fallacy" as an "activating organicist metaphor". Thus, the anthropomorphic fallacy is one of several types of metaphors to be found in the discourse of international relations. It is a metaphor which establishes a comparison between a state and a living organism whose constitutive elements (e.g. individual cells, arms, legs or feet) are essentially subordinated to the whole and cannot have a separate existence. As such, it has built in totalitarian values. On the other hand, it is as well a metaphor with a potential for the mobilization of the loyalties and energies of individual human beings.

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