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Lakoff, G. & M. Johnson. (1999) Philosophy In The Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought. Basic Books.

Author of the Summary: George Lakoff, 1999, lakoff@cogsci.Berkeley.EDU

Thought is mostly unconscious.

The mind is inherently embodied.

Abstract concepts are largely metaphorical.

These are three major findings in cognitive science that contradict most of Western philosophy, including both Anglo-American analytic philosophy and postmodernist philosophy.

This book asks, What would happen if we started with these empirical discoveries about the nature of mind and constructed philosophy anew from there?

Virtually everything changes when the embodiment of mind is taken into account:

-New understandings of truth and of science are required.

-The most basic philosophical ideas-time, events, causes, the mind, the self, and morality-are reanalyzed in detail and shown to be radically different than the Western tradition has supposed.

-Great philosophical theories-from the Presocratics, Plato and Aristotle to Descartes and Kant to analytic philosophy-are shown to be composed out of a small number of metaphors taken as eternal truths.

-Even contemporary accounts of language (Chomskyan linguistics) and rationality (the rational actor model using game theory) are shown to have a metaphorical basis.

Most importantly, the very idea of what a human being is changes radically.

-There is no Cartesian person, whose essence is a mind separate from, and independent of the body.

-There is no Kantian, radically autonomous person, with an absolute freedom and a transcendent universal reason that correctly dictates what is and isn't moral.

-There is no utilitarian person, for whom rationality is economic rationality-the maximization of utility.

-There is no postmodernist person-no completely decentered subject for whom all meaning is arbitrary, totally relative, and purely historically contingent.

-There is no person as posed by analytic philosophy for whom truth is a correspondence between words and the world, independent of human psychology and biology.

-There is no computational person, whose mind is like computer software able to work on any suitable computer or neural hardware.

-There is no Chomskyan person, for whom language is pure syntax, pure form insulated from and independent of all meaning, context, perception, emotion, memory, attention, action, and the dynamic nature of communication and whom language is a total genetic innovation that began with human beings.

Contemporary cognitive science reveals that we human beings are radically different kinds of creatures than Western philosophy has taught us that we were.

Summary author's notes:

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