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Encyclopedia > George Lakoff

George P. Lakoff ([ˈleɪ.kɔf], born May 24, 1941) is a professor of cognitive linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has taught since 1972. Although some of his research involves questions traditionally pursued by linguists, such as the conditions under which a certain linguistic construction is grammatically viable, he is most famous for his ideas about the centrality of metaphor to human thinking, political behavior and society. He is particularly famous for his concept of the "embodied mind," which he has written about in relation to mathematics. In recent years he has applied his work to the realm of politics, exploring this in his books. He is the founder of the progressive think tank, the Rockridge Institute. Lakoff is the family name of the following individuals: George Lakoff, an American linguist and cognitive scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, best known for his work in the area of conceptual metaphor. ... May 24 is the 144th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (145th in leap years). ... For the movie, see 1941 (film). ... In linguistics and cognitive science, cognitive linguistics (CL) refers to the currently dominant school of linguistics that views the important essence of language as innately based in evolutionarily-developed and speciated faculties, and seeks explanations that advance or fit well into the current understandings of the human mind. ... Sather tower (the Campanile) looking out over the San Francisco Bay and Mount Tamalpais. ... 1972 (MCMLXXII) was a leap year starting on Saturday. ... Conceptual metaphor: In cognitive linguistics, metaphor is defined as understanding one conceptual domain in terms of another conceptual domain; for example, using one persons life experience to understand a different persons experience. ... Embodied philosophy (also known as the embodied mind thesis, embodied cognition or the embodied cognition thesis) usually refers to a set of beliefs promoted by George Lakoff and his various co-authors (including Mark Johnson, Mark Turner, and Rafael E. Núñez), which suggest that the mind can only be... Euclid, Greek mathematician, 3rd century BC, as imagined by by Raphael in this detail from The School of Athens. ... Politics is the process by which groups make decisions. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... Progressivism is a term that refers to a broad school of international social and political philosophies. ... This article is about the institution. ... Rockridge Institute is an American non-profit research and educational think tank dedicated to progressive politics. ...

Contents

Reappraisal of metaphor

Lakoff began his career as a student and later a teacher of the theory of transformational grammar developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Noam Chomsky. In the late 1960s, however, he joined with other former students to promote generative semantics as an alternative to Chomsky's generative syntax. In an interview he stated: Transformational grammar is a broad term describing grammars (almost exclusively those of natural languages) which have been developed in a Chomskian tradition. ... The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private, coeducational research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. ... Avram Noam Chomsky (Hebrew and Yiddish: אברם נועם חומסקי) , Ph. ... Generative semantics is (or perhaps was) a research program within linguistics. ... Generative linguistics is a school of thought within linguistics that makes use of the concept of a generative grammar. ...

During that period, I was attempting to unify Chomsky's transformational grammar with formal logic. I had helped work out a lot of the early details of Chomsky's theory of grammar. Noam claimed then — and still does, so far as I can tell — that syntax is independent of meaning, context, background knowledge, memory, cognitive processing, communicative intent, and every aspect of the body...In working through the details of his early theory, I found quite a few cases where semantics, context, and other such factors entered into rules governing the syntactic occurrences of phrases and morphemes. I came up with the beginnings of an alternative theory in 1963 and, along with wonderful collaborators like Haj Ross and Jim McCawley, developed it through the sixties.[1]

His differences with Chomsky contributed to fierce, acrimonious debates among linguists that have come to be known as the "linguistics wars". Logic, from Classical Greek λόγος logos (the word), is the study of the principles and criteria of valid inference and demonstration. ... For other uses, see Syntax (disambiguation). ... In general, semantics (from the Greek semantikos, or significant meaning, derived from sema, sign) is the study of meaning, in some sense of that term. ... In Linguistics, a morpheme is the smallest meaningful unit in a given language. ... John Robert Haj Ross (born May 7, 1938 in Boston, Massachusetts) is a linguist who played a part in the development of generative semantics (as opposed to interpretive semantics) along with George Lakoff, James D. McCawley, and Paul Postal. ... James D. McCawley (born March 30, 1938; died April 10, 1999) was an American linguist. ...


Lakoff's original thesis on conceptual metaphor was expressed in his book with Mark Johnson entitled Metaphors We Live By in 1980. Conceptual metaphor: In cognitive linguistics, metaphor is defined as understanding one conceptual domain in terms of another conceptual domain; for example, using one persons life experience to understand a different persons experience. ... Mark L. Johnson is Knight Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Oregon. ... organization culture This page meets Wikipedias criteria for speedy deletion. ...


Metaphor has been seen within the Western scientific tradition as purely a linguistic construction. The essential thrust of Lakoff's work has been the argument that metaphors are primarily a conceptual construction, and indeed are central to the development of thought. He says, "Our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature." Non-metaphorical thought is for Lakoff only possible when we talk about purely physical reality. For Lakoff the greater the level of abstraction the more layers of metaphor are required to express it. People do not notice these metaphors for various reasons. One reason is that some metaphors become 'dead' and we no longer recognise their origin. Another reason is that we just don't "see" what is "going on".


For instance, in intellectual debate the underlying metaphor is usually that argument is war:

  • He won the argument.
  • Your claims are indefensible.
  • He shot down all my arguments.
  • His criticisms were right on target.
  • If you use that strategy, he'll wipe you out.

For Lakoff, the development of thought has been the process of developing better metaphors. The application of one domain of knowledge to another domain of knowledge offers new perceptions and understandings.


Lakoff's theory has applications throughout all academic disciplines and much of human social interaction. Lakoff has explored some of the implications of the embodied mind thesis in a number of books, most written with coauthors.


Embodied mind

Further information: Embodied philosophy

When Lakoff claims the mind is "embodied", he is arguing that almost all of human cognition, up through the most abstract reasoning, depends on and makes use of such concrete and "low-level" facilities as the sensorimotor system and the emotions. Therefore embodiment is a rejection not only of dualism vis-a-vis mind and matter, but also of claims that human reason can be basically understood without reference to the underlying "implementation details". Embodied philosophy (also known as the embodied mind thesis, embodied cognition or the embodied cognition thesis) usually refers to a set of beliefs promoted by George Lakoff and his various co-authors (including Mark Johnson, Mark Turner, and Rafael E. Núñez), which suggest that the mind can only be...


Lakoff offers three complementary but distinct sorts of arguments in favor of embodiment. First, using evidence from neuroscience and neural network simulations, he argues that certain concepts, such as color and spatial relation concepts (e.g. "red" or "over"; see also qualia), can be almost entirely understood through the examination of how processes of perception or motor control work. Drawing of the cells in the chicken cerebellum by S. Ramón y Cajal Neuroscience is a field that is devoted to the scientific study of the nervous system. ... // See also Artificial neural network. ... This article or section needs to be wikified. ... Redness is the canonical quale. ...


Second, based on cognitive linguistics' analysis of figurative language, he argues that the reasoning we use for such abstract topics as warfare, economics, or morality is somehow rooted in the reasoning we use for such mundane topics as spatial relationships. (See conceptual metaphor.) In linguistics and cognitive science, cognitive linguistics (CL) refers to the currently dominant school of linguistics that views the important essence of language as innately based in evolutionarily-developed and speciated faculties, and seeks explanations that advance or fit well into the current understandings of the human mind. ... Conceptual metaphor: In cognitive linguistics, metaphor is defined as understanding one conceptual domain in terms of another conceptual domain; for example, using one persons life experience to understand a different persons experience. ...


Finally, based on research in cognitive psychology and some investigations in the philosophy of language, he argues that very few of the categories used by humans are actually of the black and white type amenable to analysis in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions. On the contrary, most categories are supposed to be much more complicated and messy, just like our bodies. Cognitive Psychology is the school of psychology that examines internal mental processes such as problem solving, memory, and language. ... Philosophy of language is the reasoned inquiry into the nature, origins, and usage of language. ...


"We are neural beings," Lakoff states, "Our brains take their input from the rest of our bodies. What our bodies are like and how they function in the world thus structures the very concepts we can use to think. We cannot think just anything — only what our embodied brains permit."[2]


Many scientists share the belief that there are problems with falsifiability and foundation ontologies purporting to describe "what exists", to a sufficient degree of rigor to establish a reasonable method of empirical validation. But Lakoff takes this further to explain why hypotheses built with complex metaphors cannot be directly falsified. Instead, they can only be rejected based on interpretations of empirical observations guided by other complex metaphors. This is what he means when he says, in "The Embodied Mind", that falsifiability itself can never be established by any reasonable method that would not rely ultimately on a shared human bias. The bias he's referring to is the set of conceptual metaphors governing how people interpret observations. In science and the philosophy of science, falsifiability is the logical property of empirical statements, related to contingency and defeasibility, that they must admit of logical counterexamples. ... In philosophy of mathematics, a foundation ontology is an ontology in the formal philosophical sense that is deemed to play a role in the foundations of mathematics. ... An empirical validation of a hypothesis is required for it to gain acceptance in the scientific community. ...


Lakoff is, with coauthors Mark Johnson and Rafael E. Núñez, the primary proponent of the embodied mind thesis. Others who have written about the embodied mind include the physicist David Bohm (see his Thought As A System), Ray Gibbs (see his "Embodiment and Cognitive Science"), John Grinder and Richard Bandler in their neuro-linguistic programming, and Julian Jaynes. Mark L. Johnson is Knight Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Oregon. ... Rafael E. Núñez is a professor of Cognitive science at the University of California, San Diego and is well known for promoting the idea of embodied cognition. ... David Bohm. ... John Grinder, Ph. ... Richard Wayne Bandler (born February 24, 1950) is an American author on personal development. ... // Frogs into Princes by Bandler and Grinder introduced NLP. Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is a personal development system developed in the early 1970s by Richard Bandler and John Grinder, in association with Gregory Bateson. ... Julian Jaynes Julian Jaynes (February 27, 1920 - November 21, 1997) was an American psychologist, best known for his book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (1976), in which he argues that ancient peoples were not conscious as we consider the term today, and that the...


Mathematics

According to Lakoff, even mathematics itself is subjective to the human species and its cultures: thus "any question of math's being inherent in physical reality is moot, since there is no way to know whether or not it is." By this, he is saying that there is nothing outside of the thought structures we derive from our embodied minds that we can use to "prove" that mathematics is somehow beyond biology. Lakoff and Rafael E. Núñez (2000) argue at length that mathematical and philosophical ideas are best understood in light of the embodied mind. The philosophy of mathematics ought therefore to look to the current scientific understanding of the human body as a foundation ontology, and abandon self-referential attempts to ground the operational components of mathematics in anything other than "meat". Rafael E. Núñez is a professor of Cognitive science at the University of California, San Diego and is well known for promoting the idea of embodied cognition. ... Euclid, Greek mathematician, 3rd century BC, as imagined by by Raphael in this detail from The School of Athens. ... The philosopher Socrates about to take poison hemlock as ordered by the court. ... // Philosophy of mathematics is the branch of philosophy that studies the philosophical assumptions, foundations, and implications of mathematics. ... In philosophy of mathematics, a foundation ontology is an ontology in the formal philosophical sense that is deemed to play a role in the foundations of mathematics. ...


Mathematical reviewers have generally been critical of Lakoff and Núñez, pointing to mathematical errors. (Lakoff claims that these errors have been corrected in subsequent printings.) Their book has yet to elicit much of a reaction from philosophers of mathematics, although the book can be read as making strong claims about how that philosophy should proceed. The small community specializing in the psychology of mathematical learning, to which Núñez belongs, is paying attention.


Lakoff has also claimed that we should remain agnostic about whether math is somehow wrapped up with the very nature of the universe. Early in 2001 Lakoff told the AAAS: "Mathematics may or may not be out there in the world, but there's no way that we scientifically could possibly tell." This is because the structures of scientific knowledge are not "out there" but rather in our brains, based on the details of our anatomy. Therefore, we cannot "tell" that mathematics is "out there" without relying on conceptual metaphors rooted in our biology. This claim bothers those who believe that there really is a way we could "tell". The falsifiability of this claim is perhaps the central problem in the cognitive science of mathematics, a field that attempts to establish a foundation ontology based on the human cognitive and scientific process. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is an organization that promotes cooperation between scientists, defends scientific freedom, encourages scientific responsibility and supports scientific education for the betterment of all humanity. ... The cognitive science of mathematics is the study of mathematical ideas using the techniques of cognitive science. ... In philosophy of mathematics, a foundation ontology is an ontology in the formal philosophical sense that is deemed to play a role in the foundations of mathematics. ...


Political significance and involvement

Lakoff's application of cognitive linguistics to politics, literature, philosophy and mathematics has led him into territory normally considered basic to political science. The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Political Science is the field concerning the theory and practice of politics and the description and analysis of political systems and political behaviour. ...


Lakoff has publicly expressed both ideas about the conceptual structures that he views as central to understanding the political process, and some of his particular political views. He almost always discusses the latter in terms of the former.


Moral Politics gives book-length consideration to the conceptual metaphors that Lakoff sees as present in the minds of American "liberals" and "conservatives". The book is a blend of cognitive science and political analysis. Lakoff makes an attempt to keep his personal views confined to the last third of the book, where he explicitly argues for the superiority of the liberal vision. Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think is a book by cognitive linguist George Lakoff. ...


Lakoff argues that the differences in opinions between liberals and conservatives follow from the fact that they subscribe with different strength to two different metaphors about the relationship of the state to its citizens. Both, he claims, see governance through metaphors of the family. Conservatives would subscribe more strongly and more often to a model that he calls the "strict father model" and has a family structured around a strong, dominant "father" (government), and assumes that the "children" (citizens) need to be disciplined to be made into responsible "adults" (financially and morally responsible beings). However, the "children" are "adults", and so the "father" should not interfere with their lives: the government should stay out of the business of those in society who have proved their responsibility. In contrast, Lakoff argues that liberals place more support in a model of the family, which he calls the "nurturant parent model", based on "nurturant values", where both "mothers" and "fathers" work to keep the essentially good "children" away from "corrupting influences" (pollution, social injustice, poverty, etc.). Lakoff says that most people have a blend of both metaphors applied at different times, and that political speech works primarily by invoking these metaphors and urging the subscription of one over the other. American liberalism—that is, liberalism in the United States of America—is a broad political and philosophical mindset, favoring individual liberty, and opposing restrictions on liberty, whether they come from established religion, from government regulation, from the existing class structure, or from multi-national corporations. ... American conservatism is a constellation of political ideologies within the United States under the blanket heading of conservative. ... A family in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in 1997 A family consists of a domestic group of people (or a number of domestic groups), typically affiliated by birth or marriage, or by analogous or comparable relationships — including domestic partnership, cohabitation, adoption, surname and (in some cases) ownership (as occurred in the... The introduction to this article provides insufficient context for those unfamiliar with the subject matter. ... The nurturant parent model envisions a family model where children are expected to explore their surrounding with protection from their parents. ...


Lakoff further argues that one of the reasons liberals have had difficulty since the 1980s is that they have not been as aware of their own guiding metaphors, and have too often accepted conservative terminology framed in a way to promote the strict father metaphor. Lakoff insists that liberals must cease using terms like partial birth abortion and tax relief because they are manufactured specifically to allow the possibilities of only certain types of opinions. Tax relief for example, implies explicitly that taxes are an affliction, something someone would want "relief" from. To use the terms of another metaphoric worldview, Lakoff insists, is to unconsciously support it. Liberals must support linguistic think tanks in the same way that conservatives do if they are going to succeed in appealing to those in the country who share their metaphors.-1... This article is about the institution. ...


Lakoff has distributed some much briefer political analyses via the Internet. One article distributed this way is "Metaphor and War: The Metaphor System Used to Justify War in the Gulf", in which Lakoff argues that the particular conceptual metaphors used by the first Bush administration to justify American involvement in the Gulf ended up either obscuring reality, or putting a spin on the facts that was accommodating to the administration's case for military action. George Herbert Walker Bush (born June 12, 1924) was the 41st President of the United States, serving from 1989 to 1993. ...


In recent years, Lakoff has become involved with a progressive think tank, the Rockridge Institute, an involvement that follows in part from his recommendations in Moral Politics. Among his activities with the Institute, which concentrates in part on helping liberal candidates and politicians with re-framing political metaphors, Lakoff has given numerous public lectures and written accounts of his message from Moral Politics. His latest political work, Don't Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate, self-labeled as "the Essential Guide for Progressives", was published in September 2004 and features a foreword by former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean. In the United States the term progressivism refers to two political movements: first, the original political progressive movement towards social and economic reform of the late 1800s and early 1900s; and second, the continuation of this movement/ideology in the form of modern progressivism which sees itself as a reform... This article is about the institution. ... Rockridge Institute is an American non-profit research and educational think tank dedicated to progressive politics. ... shelby was here 2004 (MMIV) was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... The Democratic Party is one of two major political parties in the United States, the other being the Republican Party. ... Howard Brush Dean III (born November 17, 1948) is an American politician and physician from the U.S. state of Vermont, and currently the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, the central organ of the Democratic Party at the national level. ...


Debate with Steven Pinker

In 2006 Steven Pinker wrote an unfavourable review [3] of Lakoff's book Whose Freedom? The Battle Over America's Most Important Idea. Pinker's review was published in The New Republic magazine. Pinker argued that Lakoff's propositions are unsupported and his prescriptions a recipe for electoral failure. He writes that Lakoff is condescending and deplores Lakoff's "shameless caricaturing of beliefs" and his "faith in the power of euphemism". Pinker portrays Lakoff's arguments as "cognitive relativism, in which mathematics, science, and philosophy are beauty contests between rival frames rather than attempts to characterize the nature of reality". Lakoff wrote a rebuttal to the review [4] stating that his position on many matters is the exact reverse of what Pinker attributes to him and explicitly rejecting for example the cognitive relativism and faith in euphemism as described above. Steven Pinker Steven Arthur Pinker (born September 18, 1954) is a prominent Canadian-born American experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, and popular science writer known for his spirited and wide-ranging advocacy of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind. ... For other uses, see the New Republic disambiguation page. ...


Geoffrey Nunberg, linguist, UC Berkeley professor and author of Talking Right, weighs in on Lakoff vs Pinker in a thoughtful post to The New Republic's web site [5]. Geoffrey Nunberg is linguist who teaches at Stanford University. ... Talking Right: How Conservatives Turned Liberalism into a Tax-Raising, Latte-Drinking, Sushi-Eating, Volvo-Driving, New York Times-Reading, Body-Piercing, Hollywood-Loving, Left-Wing Freak Show is a book by linguist Geoffrey Nunberg, who uses his expertise to explain the United States Democratic Partys failure to win...


Selected bibliography

Mark L. Johnson is Knight Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Oregon. ... Mark Turner is a cognitive scientist, linguist, and author. ... Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think is a book by cognitive linguist George Lakoff. ... Mark L. Johnson is Knight Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Oregon. ... Rafael E. Núñez is a professor of Cognitive science at the University of California, San Diego and is well known for promoting the idea of embodied cognition. ... Where Mathematics Comes From: How the Embodied Mind Brings Mathematics into Being (hereinafter WMCF) is a book by George Lakoff, a cognitive linguist, and Rafael E. Núñez, a psychologist. ...

Videos

  • How Democrats and Progressives Can Win: Solutions from George Lakoff DVD format

Books that discuss Lakoff

  • Harris, Randy Allen, 1995. The Linguistics Wars. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509834-X. (Focuses on the disputes Lakoff and others have had with Chomsky.)
  • Haser, Verena, 2005. Metaphor, metonymy, and experientialist philosophy: challenging cognitive semantics. Mouton de Gruyter. (A critical look at the ideas behind embodiment and conceptual metaphor.)
  • Kelleher, William J., 2005. Progressive Logic: Framing A Unified Field Theory of Values For Progressives. The Empathic Science Institute. ISBN 0-9773717-1-9
  • McGlone, M. S., 2001, "Concepts as metaphors" in S. Glucksberg, Understanding figurative language. Oxford University Press: 90–107.
  • O'Reilly, Bill. 2006. Culture Warrior. Broadway Books. ISBN 0-7679-2092-9. (Calls Lakoff the guiding philosopher behind the secular progressive movement.)
  • Richardt, Susanne, 2005. Metaphor in languages for special purposes. The function of conceptual metaphor in written expert language and expert-lay communication in the domains of economics, medicine and computing. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. ISBN 0820473812.
  • Soros, George 2006. The Age of Fallibility: Consequences of the War on Terror ISBN 1586483595. (discusses Lakoff in regard to the application of his theories on the work of Frank Luntz and with respect to his own theory about perception and reality)
  • Winter, Steven L. 2003. A Clearing in the Forest. University Of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-90222-6. (Applies Lakoff's work in cognitive science and metaphor to the field of law and legal reasoning.)

This article is becoming very long. ... George Soros (pronounced ) [Shorosh] (born August 12, 1930, in Budapest, Hungary, as György Schwartz) is an American financial speculator, stock investor, philanthropist, and political activist. ... Frank Luntz graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with an honors Bachelor of Arts degree in history and political science, and was named a Thouron Fellow. ...

See also

In linguistics and cognitive science, cognitive linguistics (CL) refers to the currently dominant school of linguistics that views the important essence of language as innately based in evolutionarily-developed and speciated faculties, and seeks explanations that advance or fit well into the current understandings of the human mind. ... Look up metaphor in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Conceptual metaphor: In cognitive linguistics, metaphor is defined as understanding one conceptual domain in terms of another conceptual domain; for example, using one persons life experience to understand a different persons experience. ... In rhetoric, metonymy is the substitution of one word for another word with which it is associated. ... The cognitive science of mathematics is the study of mathematical ideas using the techniques of cognitive science. ... Embodied philosophy (also known as the embodied mind thesis, embodied cognition or the embodied cognition thesis) usually refers to a set of beliefs promoted by George Lakoff and his various co-authors (including Mark Johnson, Mark Turner, and Rafael E. Núñez), which suggest that the mind can only be... Embodiment is the way in which human (or any other animals) psychology arises from the brains and bodys physiology. ... A variety of different authors, theories and fields purport influences between language and thought. ... It has been suggested that Framing effect be merged into this article or section. ... A code word is a word or a phrase designed to evoke a predetermined meaning to certain listeners while disguising the speakers true meaning by allowing them to use a word that sounds much more acceptable to an average listener. ...

External links

  • University of California, Berkeley department of Linguistics page on George Lakoff
  • George Lakoff's blog
  • Edge bio of Lakoff
  • "Metaphor and War" (1991)
  • "Metaphor and War, Again" (2003)
  • Rockridge Institute
  • "Thinking of Jackasses: the grand delusions of the Democratic Party", a critical review by Marc Cooper in Atlantic Monthly
  • George Lakoff on Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think

  Results from FactBites:
 
George Lakoff - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2276 words)
George P. Lakoff ([ˈleɪ.kɔf], born 1941) is a professor of linguistics (in particular, cognitive linguistics) at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has taught since 1972.
Lakoff is, with coauthors Mark Johnson and Rafael E. Núñez, the primary proponent of the embodied mind thesis.
Lakoff wrote a rebuttal to the review [2] stating that his position on many matters is the exact reverse of that Pinker attributes to him and explicitly rejecting for example the cognitive relativism and faith in euphemism as described above.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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