George Lakoff and Mark Johnson take on the daunting task of rebuilding Western philosophy in alignment with three fundamental lessons from cognitive science: the mind is inherently embodied; thought is mostly unconscious; and abstract concepts are largely metaphorical. Why so daunting? "Cognitive science--the empirical study of the mind--calls upon us to create a new, empirically responsible philosophy, a philosophy consistent with empirical discoveries about the nature of mind", they write. "A serious appreciation of cognitive science requires us to rethink philosophy from the beginning, in a way that would put it more in touch with the reality of how we think". In other words, no Platonic forms, no Cartesian mind-body duality, no Kantian pure logic. Even Noam Chomsky's generative linguistics is revealed under scrutiny to have substantial problems.
Parts of Philosophy in the Flesh retrace the ground covered in the authors' earlier Metaphors We Live By, which revealed how we deal with abstract concepts through metaphor. (The previous sentence, for example, relies on the metaphors "Knowledge is a place" and "Knowing is seeing" to make its point.) Here they reveal the metaphorical underpinnings of basic philosophical concepts like time, causality--even morality--demonstrating how these metaphors are rooted in our embodied experiences. They re-propose philosophy as an attempt to perfect such conceptual metaphors so that we can understand how our thought processes shape our experience; they even make a tentative effort toward rescuing spirituality from the heavy blows dealt by the disproving of the disembodied mind or "soul" by re-imagining "transcendence" as "imaginative empathetic projection". Their source list is helpfully arranged by subject matter, making it easier to follow up on their citations. If you enjoyed the mental workout from Steven Pinker's How the Mind Works, Lakoff and Johnson will, to pursue the "Learning is exercise" metaphor, take you to the next level of training. --Ron Hogan
Two Leading Thinkers Offer Blueprint for a New Philosophy
PHILOSOPHY IN THE FLESH: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson is a pathbreaking volume that radically challenges the tenets of Western philosophy. Grounded in the empirical research of cognitive science, PHILOSOPHY IN THE FLESH refutes the long-held view that reason is independent of the body, directly accessible to conscious reflection, and uniquely human.
According to Lakoff and Johnson, the Cartesian person, with a mind wholly separate from the body, does not exist. The Kantian person, capable of moral action according to the dictates of a universal reason, does not exist. The phenomenological person, capable of knowing his or her mind entirely through introspection alone, does not exist. The utilitarian person, the Chomskian person, the poststructuralist person, the computational person, and the person defined by analytic philosophy all do not exist.
Based on recent findings of cognitive science that have shattered long-held assumptions about mans ability to reason and contemplate, PHILOSOPHY IN THE FLESH clarifies three major discoveries that reveal a radically new and detailed understanding of what a person is: the workings of the mind cannot be separated from the anatomy and physiology of the brain; thought is mostly unconscious; abstract concepts are largely metaphorical.
After first describing the philosophical stance that must follow from taking cognitive science seriously, Lakoff and Johnson re-examine the basic concepts of the mind, time, causation, morality, and the self; then they rethink a host of philosophical traditions. Finally, they take on two major issues of twentieth-century philosophy: how we conceive rationality and how we conceive language. Nothing short of revolutionary, this instant classic will become a seminal treatise on philosophy for the new millenium.
Advance Praise for PHILOSOPHY IN THE FLESH:
"Lakoff and Johnson's slim Metaphors We Live By had extraordinary influence in emphasizing the role of the body in thought, language, and knowledge, a subject now at the center of neuroscience, cognitive science, linguistics, and philosophy. Twenty years after, reunited, Lakoff and Johnson take up where they left off. The result is a herculean volume whose bracing ambition is to explain the nature of human knowledge and the bases of philosophical inquiry. This book will be an instant academic bestseller." --Mark Turner, author of The Literary Mind: The Origins of Thought and Language
"Lakoff and Johnsons new book is a bold and subversive incursion of cognitive science and metaphor theory into the trenches of philosophy, with fascinating consequences for scientific and intellectual inquiry in general." --Gilles Fauconnier, University of California San Diego
About the Authors:
GEORGE LAKOFF is Professor Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, and the co-author, with Mark Johnson, of Metaphors We Live By. He was one of the founders of the generative semantics movement in linguistics in the 1960s, a founder of the field of cognitive linguistics in the 1970s, and one of the developers of the neural theory of language in the 1980s and 90s. His other books include Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things, and Moral Politics.
MARK JOHNSON is Professor and Head of the Philosophy Department at the University of Oregon. Besides Metaphors We Live By with George Lakoff, he is author of The Body in the Mind and Moral Imagination, and is editor of the anthology Philosophical Perspectives on Metaphor.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.