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Force Dynamics Basics

Agency-related analyses examine the actions of an agent on a patient. Force dynamics also involves agency, but the focus shifts from what an agent is doing to a patient to relationships of force between two elements. Conceptions of force have a key embodied component in that they are derived from the universal human experience of objects moving, being moved, and applying pressure (Hart, 2011; Johnson, 1987). Force-based relationships are represented in a system created by Talrny (2000), which he illustrates with the following example:

1. The wind blows the ball.

This describes a situation in which there are two forces with opposing tendencies. The ball’s state is the focus of the sentence, so the ball, in Talmy’s system, is called the agonist and is depicted as a circle. The wind is an opposing force, so it is called the antagonist. The antagonist is depicted as a rectangle with a crescent shaped curve on one side. Since the wind is a pushing force (rather than a blocking force), it is shown on the left in the diagram.The ball’s natural tendency is to remain at rest. This is indicated by the dot in the circle. The wind’s natural tendency is toward movement. This could be indicated by a “greater than” sign on the antagonist. However, this is redundant information since the agonist’s tendency toward rest implies the antagonist’s tendency toward motion, so only one of the tendencies (either the dot or the “greater than” sign) is typically shown in diagrams. In the situation depicted, the wind’s force toward movement is stronger than the ball’s tendency toward rest, so a plus sign is placed on the antagonist. The line below the figure shows the outcome. Since the force of the wind overcomes the force of the ball (causing the ball to move), a “greater than” sign appears on the line (see Figure 6.1).

These concepts can be illustrated with some further examples using excerpts from religious texts.

2. They had come to him glittering with beauty - Tanha, Arati, and Raga -

But the Teacher swept them away right there As the wind, a fallen cotton tuft.

(Bodlri, 2000, p. 220)

Force tendencies in “The wind blows the ball”

FIGURE 6.1 Force tendencies in “The wind blows the ball”

  • 3. [AJnd the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
  • (Matthew 7:25)
  • 4. So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.
  • (Mark 11:15)

In the account of the temptation of the Buddha by the three daughters of Mara (Tanha, Arad, and Raga, or Craving, Aversion, and Attachment) in example 2, the Buddha “swept” them away. In this situation, the natural disposition of these “daughters” (which represents natural human proclivities that block progress toward enlightenment) is assumed to constantly remain and tempt the religious seeker. The Buddha’s force of will, on the other hand, acts against these natural psychological tendencies. There is an imbalance between these two sets of opposing forces, with the determination of the Buddha proving to be stronger, so the three “daughters” are overcome and he achieves enlightenment. In the diagram, the Buddha serves as the focal point in the statement and is therefore shown in the role of the agonist, which is depicted as a circle. The three “daughters”, as forces opposing his progress toward enlightenment, are the antagonist, depicted as a rectangle with a curved crescent on one side. Since the daughters represent a blocking force instead of a pushing force, they are depicted on the right side of the agonist. This force dynamic configuration is represented in Figure 6.2.

In the third example (Figure 6.3), stormy weather (“rain”, “floods”, and “wind”) has a tendency toward movement, whereas a solidly constructed

Force tendencies in the temptation of the Buddha

FIGURE 6.2 Force tendencies in the temptation of the Buddha

Force tendencies in the house on the rock

FIGURE 6.3 Force tendencies in the house on the rock

house standing on firm foundations has a tendency to remain unmoved. In this case, the force of the house is stronger, so the outcome is that the house does not move.

In the fourth example (Figure 6.4), the money changers and merchants have a tendency to remain at the temple. When Jesus appears on the scene, a force dynamic situation is created in which Jesus serves as antagonist. Since Jesus is not initially part of the scene, his appearance can be depicted using a downward arrow. In this situation, the line below the figure, representing the outcome, is divided in half. The first half shows the configuration before the appearance of Jesus (when the money changers and merchants were not moving) and the second half, the force dynamics after Jesus appears and drives them away.

Force tendencies in Jesus and the money changers

FIGURE 6.4 Force tendencies in Jesus and the money changers

The figures allow analysts to consider the force dynamic relationship at the abstract level of meaning, apart from the specific linguistic forms used to express this meaning. Force dynamics must be understood as interacting with other cognitive linguistic constructs. In example 3, the constituent elements (the storm and the house) of the force dynamic relationship are both part of a metaphorical mapping (e.g., a person enduring is a house standing). In example 2, the elements of the Buddha and Mara’s daughters are not only metaphorical but also probably understood by most Buddhists as representing ditferent elements of the same mind.This construal of the mind as made up of opposing parts appears often in Buddhist discourse due to its psychological focus.

 
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