Study Questions for Lakoff, The Political Mind, Chapter 4

Prepared by Dr. Jan Garrett

Last modification date: July 29, 2009

1. The brain structures that correspond to narratives are used in what three kinds of experience? (93-94)

2. How do we acquire an extensive system of normally unconscious primary metaphors for morality and immorality? (94)

3. What is the basis of the metaphors associated with what Lakoff calls Moral Accounting? (95) State and explain several of these metaphors? (95)

4. What major ethical theory seems to be based on Moral Accounting? (95)

5. What is the basis for the conceptual metaphors of morality (=righteousness?) as Uprightness, Light, Purity, Health, Beauty, Honesty, Following a Path, Caring, Obedience, Discipline, Freedom, (Respecting) Order? (Discuss three or four of these, and give linguistic examples.) (96-98)

6. How does the logic behind the metaphor of the Moral Order work? (Note: the metaphor here is The Moral Order is the Natural Order.) How has this metaphor been used to justify (pick two) discrimination, sexism, homophobia, ethnic cleansing, and the hunting of species into extinction? (98-99)

7. What did the experiments by Zhong and Liljenquist show about the Morality is Cleanliness metaphor? (Briefly summarize their experiments.) (99-100) What general conclusion do these and the experiments of Moll and Grafman seem to support? (99-101)

8. What does research concerning mirror neurons tell us about how we are "pre-wired"? (101)

9. Why does Lakoff introduce at this point the examples of American responses to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and their political effects; TV pictures during the Vietnam War; Bush administration decisions to ban such pictures during the Iraq War; the effects of pictures of poorly treated veterans at Walter Reed hospital? (101-102)

10. What happens in people who have had brain injuries or strokes in the region of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex? (102)

11. What point is Lakoff trying to make with his discussion of neurons, or complex circuits of neurons, A, B, C, and D? (102-103) What lesson does Lakoff draw for progressive political campaigns? (103)

12. What are the two central metaphors of morality, at the heart of the nurturant and authoritarian models of the family? Why does Morality is Strength seem to be linked to Obedience is Authority? Need it be so linked? (105-106)

13. Why is masculinity (apparently) a political issue? Why do conservatives push for long sentences for drug offenders? Why did they nevertheless support the commutation of Scooter Libby's jail sentence? How are all of these connected in the unconscious devotion to a certain vision of "family"? (106-107)

14. How does "progressive Christianity" differ in general from "conservative fundamentalist Christianity"? Are there biconceptuals among people who identify with conservative Christianity? Explain. (108-top 109)

15. Can there be disagreements among people who almost totally accept the general conservative or the general progressive view? Cite relevant examples. Does this imply that conservativism or progressivism is self-destructing? (109-110) Explain.

16. What are the two sources of bitterness in political discourse? Which does L think is "wider and deeper"? (110)