Metaphor, Objects, and Commodities
35 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2008
This Article is a contribution to a Symposium that focuses on the ideas of Margaret Jane Radin as a point of departure, and particularly on her analyses of propertization and commodification. While Radin focuses on the harms associated with commodification of the person, relying on Hegel's idea of alienation, we argue that objectification, and in particular objectification of various features of the digital environment, may have important system benefits. We present an extended critique of Radin's analysis, basing the critique in part on Gadamer's argument that meaning and application are interrelated and that meaning changes with application. Central to this interplay is the speculative form of analysis that seeks to fix meaning, contrasted with metaphorical thought that seeks to undermine some fixed meanings and create new meanings through interpretation. The result is that speculative and metaphorical forms are conjoined in an interactive process through which new adaptations emerge. Taking this critique an additional step, we use examples from contemporary intellectual property law discourse to demonstrate how an interactive approach, grounded in metaphor, can yield important insights.
Keywords: metaphor, commoditization, objectification, objects, interpretation
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