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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading, a refreshing vision
The mind is inherently embodied. Thought is mostly unconscious. Abstract concepts are largely metaphorical.
So begins Philosophy In The Flesh. The authors then analyze Western philosophical traditions from the perspective of these finding in cognitive science. The book is a journey through Western philosophy. While reading this, one feels that one is taking a...
Published on 26 Mar 2000

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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Equally painful and pleasurable
Some of the comments have been unkind on this book, and this is in part correct. The sheer breadth of what they attempt to do - a reconceptualising of philosophy through the body - means that, even in 500+ pages, there is little doubt they can do the subject justice. They have a damn good go, though.
I found the book alternately easy-going and hard, interesting...
Published on 25 July 1999


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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading, a refreshing vision, 26 Mar 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought (Paperback)
The mind is inherently embodied. Thought is mostly unconscious. Abstract concepts are largely metaphorical.
So begins Philosophy In The Flesh. The authors then analyze Western philosophical traditions from the perspective of these finding in cognitive science. The book is a journey through Western philosophy. While reading this, one feels that one is taking a favorite journey anew from a new perspective.
This layman found the book to be a coherent and fascinating explanation of the nature of reason. The book explains how basic-level concepts; conceptual frames, spatial relations and metaphor are used to construct complex concepts. The book also gives a plausible explanation for why much of thought is universal and yet much is relative between cultures, languages and individuals.
The authors then criticize rational actor models such as those that form the basis of the Western economic, legal, and international relations systems. Their premise is that the western belief that there can be an autonomous rational self is mistaken and this belief leads to mistakes that adversely affect the environment, cultures and individuals when the rational actor models are applied to real systems.
The authors close with a vision of what an embodied philosophy is. They believe that human beings have an embodied metaphoric reason, a limited freedom to adjust conceptual tools, and a morality that based on human embodied experience. The authors believe that it is human nature to change and evolve.
The authors fall onto thin ice in the final section of the book. Their view of evolution as a nurturing system and not a competitive one is not one likely to be shared by most biologists. Clearly nurturing parents are an advantage for many animals, but to say that nature as a whole is a nurturing system is wildly romantic. Additionally the authors wish to define a new moral vision that could be shared by all of humanity. Sadly, but not surprisingly, they do not present a coherent system of morality that could replace the rational actor models they criticize.
Despite these weaknesses, this book is well worth reading as it supplies a refreshing vision that defines what it is to be a thinking human being.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent but neglected Wittgenstein, 15 Feb 1999
By A Customer
I've read, or read in, all the authors previous works with enthusiasm. This fulfills what was promised in those earlier works. My only disappointment so far (I've skipped around)was the short shrift they gave to the later Wittgenstein. What Lakoff and Johnson have in breadth, I think Wittgenstein will add much depth. As a matter of fact, I plan to use this book to organize ideas about Wittgenstein's later work. I understand why the authors may not have wished to say much about Wittgenstein, as everybody sees a different Wittgenstein: Mind and World by McDowell, Truth and Objectivity by Crispin Wright, etc. I still feel an authentic Wittgenstein can be found, and the Lakoff and Johnson will be a great help in finding him. If anyone is interested in exchanging insights, I am thirsty for conversation. (roparrl@aol.com)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening, 16 Feb 2011
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This review is from: Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought (Paperback)
This book is everything the Amazon review says it is, and more.

I've read a lot of philosophical texts and have always struggled with their abstractness, their distance from the real world. What has Leibnitz's monad or Searle's status function have to do with real life? Not a lot as far as I can see.

Lakoff and Johnson's book takes the real world and real people's cognitive functioning as the basis for approaching philosophy and metaphor as the primary mechanism of thought. This gives it a solid grounding in reality, and hence its thesis can be ported back into real life to real effect.

A critical point to consider if the blurb for the book interests you - the text is readable!

L & J avoid the jargon saturated style of many philosophers in favor of simple, readable, plain English, and there are copious examples through out that put their theory in a real world context, so you won't find yourself having to map abstract concepts back to reality. If only all philosophical authors could write as clearly!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Doorstop or groundbreaker?, 7 Feb 1999
By A Customer
Tend to the latter. Amazing work, especially valuable as a foil if you are a serious rationalist and/or realist (with small 'r's).
The authors take a fairly reasonable realist stance, and try to retain as much reasonable rationalism as possible and consistent with the book's proposed findings; but they do seriously challenge major aspects of r & r, as these have commonly been understood - although one *sometimes* feels they are clutching at straw men!
The publisher's blurb pretty much describes it accurately. This work could have an impact on all areas of your thought, *everything* might have to be re-jigged to a greater or lesser extent once you decide to take this stuff seriously.
BTW, has anybody thought of analogies between this work and Douglas Hofstadter's recent work? Dennett might be another healthy cross-fertilisation.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thinking with the body not just the head, 20 Jun 2005
This review is from: Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought (Paperback)
I loved this book! Few philosophers ever seem to deal with the physical side of life. Lakoff and Johnson do, however, and they attempt to show how our cognitive experience is derived from our embodied experience. I tend to think they have done this rather well and it strikes me that the basis to all our concepts is physical experience. The book could have had more on spatial awareness, since if our cognitive structures emerge from our physical being they must be 'implaced' - I had to go to Edward S. Casey to find out more about that. Also, given recent books by Ramachandran, Edelman, Damasio et. al., it would be nice to see a little bit more about the relationship between the body and areas of the brain responsible for the senses and spatial awareness (the parietal and the hippocampus, I believe). Perhaps that will be something they might touch on in future? Read them all! Then, like me, wonder why so many philosophers ignore the flesh they think in.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Equally painful and pleasurable, 25 July 1999
By A Customer
Some of the comments have been unkind on this book, and this is in part correct. The sheer breadth of what they attempt to do - a reconceptualising of philosophy through the body - means that, even in 500+ pages, there is little doubt they can do the subject justice. They have a damn good go, though.
I found the book alternately easy-going and hard, interesting and repellant. People will bring their own specialisations with them when they read the book and so will become enraged at different points within the book. My personal interest - in physiological vision - was mentioned only really in passing but there was enough there to use on other matters for the book to be considered generally useful. I do resent having to read all through it and having to endure repetition, though. The phrase about '2nd-generation cognitive science', as if it were a panacea, contributes towards the narrow-minded scientism that they were presumably attempting to rid 20th-Century philosophy of in the first place -- especially in their dealings of analytic philosophy.
And their treatment of 'poststructuralist' philosophy is best forgotten, even though Iragary, Grosz and Deleuze could have given them a big helping hand...
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A clear synopsis of nearly twenty years worth of research., 19 Jun 1999
By A Customer
Having followed the authors' work for over ten years, I was pleased to see Lakoff and Johnson come around once again to tackle the philosophical implications their research entails. As expansive as Women..., but explicated in a clear and precise manner, Philosophy in the Flesh presents the bulk of experiments and observations detailing the embodied roles language and imagination play in our lives. That concepts have a basic logic which is neither a representation of mind-independent categories in the world nor a product of individual minds only, they have offered the philosophical community a middle path between Objectivism and Solipsism. Their own work, supported by people such as Antonio Damasio, Mark Turner, and Ronald Langaker, has reached a maturity most philosophers only dream of. Unfortunately, rather than being seriously attacked by mainstream philosophy or cognitive science, they have been largely ignored. Not entirely unlike their colleagues in vision, people such as Evan Thompson and Francisco Varela, they have been marginalized by the very figures they critique. Happily, however, there is a growing core of linguists and philosophers who have grown up wary of the traditional camps, and who have added to the core belief that the function of our perceptual and motor system creates the very particular cognitive system we have in place. If there is a complaint about this book, it is in the challenge that they fail to give to the bulk of philosophical work being done today. Work that would greatly benefit from their insights.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but flawed, 23 July 1999
By A Customer
I'm studying philosophy and find it most refreshing to read a book that revolts against the non-body paradigm in philosophy. It is most unstysfying though to feel more scholared than the authors. I've studied for 4 years and should therefore not be able to tell two esteemed professors what's right and what's wrong, but throughout the book I felt that I've could have treated the other philosophers better. For instance is it wrong that the only people who have done this before are Dewey and Merleau-Ponty. What about Husserl, Sartre or James for that matter?..... Hte book is also almost religious. By that I mean that the authors end the book as if this was THE TEXT, the holy word etc. The book could need a bit of tradition, less selfflattering and more proof for the theories. Also Varela whom the authors quote could have played a more significant role. He has made research after 1991. The book is worth reading, but so is the originals such as Husserl, Merleau-Ponty etc
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5.0 out of 5 stars Vital reading for all modern philosophers and their students, 15 Mar 1999
By A Customer
The authors don't say it, they may not even know it; but this book is revolutionary. Not only does it suggest that philosopy has to start again almost from scratch, but it is an opening blow of the scientific attack upon philosophy in which the end results will probably be the same as those of the scientific attack upon religion.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A clear synopsis of nearly twenty years worth of research., 19 Jun 1999
By A Customer
Having followed the authors' work for over ten years, I was pleased to see Lakoff and Johnson come around once again to tackle the philosophical implications their research entails. As expansive as Women..., but explicated in a clear and precise manner, Philosophy in the Flesh presents the bulk of experiments and observations detailing the embodied roles language and imagination play in our lives. That concepts have a basic logic which is neither a representation of mind-independent categories in the world nor a product of individual minds only, they have offered the philosophical community a middle path between Objectivism and Solipsism. Their own work, supported by people such as Antonio Damasio, Mark Turner, and Ronald Langaker, has reached a maturity most philosophers only dream of. Unfortunately, rather than being seriously attacked by mainstream philosophy or cognitive science, they have been largely ignored. Not entirely unlike their colleagues in vision, people such as Evan Thompson and Francisco Varela, they have been marginalized by the very figures they critique. Happily, however, there is a growing core of linguists and philosophers who have grown up wary of the traditional camps, and who have added to the core belief that the function of our perceptual and motor system creates the very particular cognitive system we have in place. If there is a complaint about this book, it is in the challenge that they fail to give to the bulk of philosophical work being done today. Work that would greatly benefit from their insights.
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