PHIL 401-002 (Spring 2007)
Essay Assignment on Embodied Realism
or the Cognitive Science of Philosophical Concepts

Contact Dr. Jan Garrett

Last revised on March 17, 2007

Due: Class time, March 29.

Length: 1200 words excluding quoted material; double spaced, word-processed, about one-inch page margins. Please give me a word count, without including material. You may exceed the minimum page length by 2-3 pages if you wish.

Semester Points Assigned: 40

General Description: A paper on some aspect of Lakoff's and Johnson's embodied realism, or their analyses of our concepts of time, causation, or mind. Superior papers will discuss a certain number of empirical results of (second-generation) cognitive science and connect them with their (alleged or real) implications for philosophical questions.

If you have not carefully worked through the study questions corresponding to the key passages on which you'll be relying, you should probably do that before trying to compose your essay.

You may refer to Lakoff and Johnson by page number, using the embedded parenthetic format: e.g., "Lakoff and Johnson say that we rarely think without metaphor (LJ, 59)." You may refer to other works by using the author-date and page method, e.g., (Barnes 1995, 325). Use endnotes and a bibliography if you cite such other sources. If you cite Aristotle directly, use the method indicated for the first paper.

Suggested Topics

Note: Other passages than those indicated by the study questions listed may be relevant. Use the index to look up any terms whose meanings are not clear. (I have put up a partial glossary on this website that may also help.)

Study Question Sets for Chapters 10-12 will be available on the course website by Monday, March 20.

A. Lakoff and Johnson on the role of conceptual metaphor in thinking.

See chapters 4-5; especially issues to which the following study questions refer: 34; 36; 38; 40-43; 46-50; 55-56.
B. Lakoff and Johnson on embodied realism, disembodied realism, and truth.
See chapters 6-7; especially issues to which the following study questions refer: 59-60; 63; 65-66; 71; 72; 74-75; 77-84; 92-98.
C. The cognitive science of our ideas of time.
See chapter 10, especially the issues to which the following study questions refer: 6-20; 24-27; 34-36. This chapter relates the metaphors for time to the puzzles about time investigated by Zeno and Augustine.

D. The cognitive science of causal ideas.

See chapter 11, especially the issues to which the following study questions refer: 38-39; 42-54; 56-59; 64-65. Among other things, this chapter tries to show how philosophical concepts such as essence and the four well-known Aristotelian causes derive from common conceptual metaphors. It also evaluates Russell's thesis that the idea of cause is a mere fiction.
E. The cognitive science of ideas of mind
See chapter 12, especially the issues to which the following study questions refer: 70-82; 84-86; 90-93. Note: This chapter has a number of interesting and provocative things to say about major perspectives in 20th century Anglo-American analytic philosophy.

If you find yourself stuck at any point, please ask for guidance. I am here to help.