- Paperback: 640 pages
- Publisher: Basic Books; New Ed edition (8 Oct. 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0465056741
- ISBN-13: 978-0465056743
- Product Dimensions: 18.7 x 4.1 x 23.5 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 37,307 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- See Complete Table of Contents
Philosophy In The Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought Paperback – 8 Oct 1999
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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
From the Publisher
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.See all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
Their understanding of metaphors is that they “project inference patterns” (82). In this sense the peculiar metaphors that are used to guide understanding impose external patterns that determine the very avenues of thought used by people. Lakoff and Johnson go so far as to suggest (with good reason) that “neural mechanisms used in perception and movement … [may] also [be] used in abstract reasoning” (37). Hence the grandiose expectations expressed in this text anticipate that the world of philosophers will capitulate on previous knowledge and bow to their new discoveries.
Some philosophers are selected for particular attack. Descartes is one, who’s ‘ideas as objects in the mind’ thinking we are told is clearly wrong, in the light of recent discoveries made by cognitive science. Ideas are not objects in the mind, we are told. The correspondence theory of truth is rejected. The authors show ways in which ‘faculty psychology’ (that divides the mind into ‘faculties’ or departments rather as a university) is clearly wrong.Read 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!
"There exists no Kantian radically autonomous person, with absolute freedom and a transcendent reason that correctly dictates what is and isn't moral. Reason, arising from the body, doesn't transcend the body [...] There is no poststructuralist person--no completely decentered subject for whom all meaning is arbitrary, totally relative, and purely historically contingent, unconstrained by body and brain" (p.5).
I recommend this book to followers of transcendentalism and relativism alike. It is rather dry reading and their analysis not impeccable, but their message is important. Although the authors denote their standpoint as "embodied realism", they nevertheless take the view that our experiences of colour, e.g., must be regarded as subjective. I am not so certain of that. If experience is embodied, and notions of subjective and objective have become relativized, why take the wholly psychological view of colour?
I am surprised at the little impact that the findings of cognitive science and the discovery of the unconscious has had on philosophers generally. I had expected old uncle Kant and uncle Husserl to be relegated to the dustbin of obsolete misconceptions by now. I was especially interested to read how Plato had arrived at his complex metaphysic. It builds on a few metaphorical ideas, especially the notion that Essences are both Ideas and Ideals. The rest, including the hierarchy of Being, is given by induction.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's doesn't look 'new' - the page edges are grubby and one corner is slightly bent.Published 9 months ago by zoomuno
This book is very important... If you intrested in cognitive science, the philosophy of mind and language you should read this book absolutely. Read morePublished on 10 Dec. 2013 by Abdullah ^evki YURTVERMEZ
This hefty volume employs the empirical findings of second generation cognitive science to challenge the Western philosophical belief in a rational disembodied mind. Read morePublished on 17 April 2013 by nicholas hargreaves
The work is basically little more than a long-winded discussion on the theme: 'man is the measure of all things'. Read morePublished on 7 Dec. 2012 by Peter Robinson
"Reason, even in its most abstract form, makes use of rather than transcends our animal nature" This is nicely put, though hardly new to anyone versed in philosophy or social... Read morePublished on 18 Jan. 2007 by anotherreader
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... Read morePublished on 20 Jun. 2005 by Amazon Customer
The mind is inherently embodied. Thought is mostly unconscious. Abstract concepts are largely metaphorical.
So begins Philosophy In The Flesh. Read more