Common minds: A study of metaphors of good and evil across selected language groups

Ruby Kathryn Dunlap, Tennessee State University


This research investigated the nature, relationships and implications of metaphor in the expressions of good and evil in Chinese, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Somali, French and English. Grounded theory research method was used in the collection of metaphoric expressions of good and evil from study participants fluent in both their native languages and English. The researcher, by means of dialogue and open-ended interviews with the study participants, examined both the literal and idiomatic meanings of these expressions. From this examination, they categorized the expressions based on the underlying conceptual metaphor. The parts of the underlying metaphor were compared and contrasted with selected examples in each language group. Following this analysis, the researcher discussed the implications for moral, cognitive and curriculum theories which were justified on the basis of the study results. The results support a theory of universal moral conceptualization with human well-being as the guiding principle for metaphoric representation of good and evil. The results also suggest a paired structure to human mental operations which link the imagination and the reason as an interdependent dynamic of cognition. From the cognitive theory flows a curriculum theory which makes inclusion of both the imagination and the reason imperative to moral teaching which is neither trivial nor arbitrary.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Ruby Kathryn Dunlap, "Common minds: A study of metaphors of good and evil across selected language groups" (2002). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3100068.