Louder Than Words: The New Science of How the Mind Makes Meaning by Benjamin K. Bergen (2012-11-15) Hardcover – 1703
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Top Customer Reviews
The thought of language being integrally linked to the body has fascinating implications for notions of resurrection and eternity. Some people’s belief in eternity is ghostly, as if eternity has to do with wandering spirits. Bergen’s work implies that full bodily resurrection is more likely. (Bergen does not mention this link to resurrection.)
Bergen makes it clear that his account is ‘work in progress’. I felt however that he was too reluctant to draw conclusions and could have been more daring. I love the probing into what embodied language could imply for abstract thought. That whole field seems to be fascinating. Sometimes he underplays the impact of context (in this case simulation) on meaning, thus underplaying a vital field especially for intercultural communication. His work and that of his colleagues has many practical implications that still need to be drawn more fully. The main weakness of the book seems to me to be it’s failure to integrate parallel discussions going on in fields other than cognitive studies. My thoughts go to Paul Grice on pragmatics and then more recently Sperber and Wilson’s work on relevance. The latter seems to run closely in parallel with Bergen’s ‘discoveries’, and his book is much the weaker for not linking to their research, and to that on pragmatics in general.
Bergen explains his interest in the issue of meaning by claiming that "making meaning might be one of the most important things we do" and "what's perhaps most remarkable about it is that we hardly notice we're doing anything at all" (3). In his research, Bergen deals mostly with meaning that is conveyed through language, which as he observes, people (and only them) use "to make sense of the world" (3).
In the first parts of chapter I of his book, Bergen provides a brief account of the previous theories of meaning, paying particular attention to Mentalese, which he describes as "one of the most important and influential ideas people have had about meaning and the mind" (9). Even though Bergen pays tribute to this theory, he also enumerates its shortcomings. Mentalese does not allow us to really understand words, as he confirms, it only provides some mental definitions and do not break the vicious circle of defining words in terms of other words.Read more ›
Over simplified, and engaging. Bergen uses allot of metaphor to try and express an overview of embodied cognition, but in doing so seems to create a convoluted and uninformative piece of writing. Perhaps a good overview for anyone not actually looking to learn about the subject, but just have a general idea of what Embodied Cognition encompasses, but you may end up with the wrong ideas, and so I wouldn't recommend it even for that.
All in all its a very simple overview of some amazing new ideas in cognitive science, but was not for me, didn't give it one star as I think the more books there are on this subject, the better, and its a hard thing to write about for people not informed on the subject.
If your looking for an overview of Embodied Cognition, i would strongly recommend "Beyond the Brain: How Body and Environment Shape Animal and Human Minds" As I found this both well written, and easy to follow, as well as being wonderfully referenced, allowing you to explore further the points that take your fancy.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
The divede between therapists and cognitive scientist becomes wider, the more progressive the therapists and the scientists seem to be. Scientist always need to safeguard their reputation and therefore may stay away from in their view 'isoteric' not established disciplines.
I belief that Benjamin Bergen is incognisent, that he helped to prove the basic models of NLP.
Maybe this book will help cognitive linguistics to open up for some other ideas that come from 40 years of clinical experience.
Louder than Words, is extremely well written: tells a story and gives definitive answers.
Therefore, thank you, Mr. Bergen. For the ease of explanations, importance of the themes in this book and all the fabulous time I had reading it. Way to go! We begin to understand what the understanding is.