Study Questions for George Lakoff and Mark Johnson,
Philosophy in the Flesh, Part I

Study Questions by Dr. Jan Garrett

Last revised February 21, 2007

Study Questions by Chapters
Chapter 1 Who Are We?
Chapter 2 The Cognitive Unconscious
Chapter 3 The Embodied Mind
Chapter 4 Primary Metaphor and Subjective Experience

The numbers associated with the questions refer to pages in LJ, unless otherwise indicated. "LJ" refers to Lakoff and Johnson, the authors, or to the book, which they jointly authored.

Chapter 1: Who Are We?

1. What three major findings of (second-generation) cognitive science do LJ state at the beginning? (3)

Note. Most of what LJ say about cognitive science refers to what they later call second-generation cognitive science, not what they later call first-generation cognitive science. (See 74-80 for a more thorough discussion of this distinction.)

2. What, generally, does the book ask and what is the general answer? (3)

3. How does the new perspective change the understanding of reason? (4)

4. State one familiar philosophical view of the person that the new understanding challenges. (5-6)

5. What, at the minimum, do we have to do if we are going to reopen basic philosophical issues? (8)

Chapter 2: The Cognitive Unconscious

6. Why do LJ say that living a human life is itself a philosophical endeavor? (9-10)

7. What is cognitive science and what "first of all" has it discovered? (10-11)

8. What does "cognitive" mean in cognitive science? (11) What older use of the term sometimes causes confusion? (12)

9. What does the "Hidden Hand" section of this chapter tell us about the cognitive unconscious? (12-14)

10. What have philosophers been doing in the past when they construct metaphysical systems? To what irony in all this do LJ point? (14)

11. What aspect of traditional philosophy does cognitive science call into question? (14-15)

Chapter 3: The Embodied Mind

12. What do LJ mean by the "theory of faculty psychology"? What does the evidence from cognitive science show regarding this theory? (16-17)

13. Why do LJ say these findings are "profoundly disquieting"? (17)

14. Is there any connection between our practice of categorizing things and our biological makeup? (17-18) Explain briefly. How are most of our categories formed? (18)

15. Can we "get beyond" our categories as certain meditative traditions claim? (19)

16. Briefly, what are prototypes. Briefly discuss how ideal-case or prototypes or social stereotypes are used. (19) (This only scratches the surface of prototype theory.)

17. How do we often envision categories? What does this hide? (20)

18. What makes concepts concepts, according to LJ? What do they tell us about "much of conceptual inference"? (20)

19. What picture of reality and our human place in it is (more or less) characteristic of mainstream Western philosophy? (See the nine points on 21-22.) From what did they arise? (22) What happens if tenets 4-6 are false?

Reflection question, linking what you know about Aristotle and LJ: to what extent does Aristotle's view of reality and our place in it correspond to this "mainstream" picture of reality of which LJ are critical?
20. What four factors create our experience of color? What two additional points do LJ make? (2 paras. bottom 23-top 24)

21. What might one suppose about color? (24) What does it mean to say our color concepts are "interactional"? (24) Why does metaphysical realism fail in relation to color? (25)

22. Why do radical relativism and social constructionism fail? What does this passage tell us about LJ’s “embodied realism”? (25)

23. What philosophical consequence regarding the Correspondence Theory of Truth do LJ mention? (26) Was Locke right to hold out for the view that there are primary qualities (as he understood them)? (26)

24. What sorts of things are “basic level categories”? (26ff.) What has research in cognitive science discovered about them? (27-28)

25. In what way do basic-level categories seem to support metaphysical realism? With what type of categories does it fail? (29)

26. Why do our basic-level categories and evolution “match up”?

27. What do LJ mean when they say that we use spatial-relations concepts unconsciously and impose them on our experience, for instance, in perceiving a butterfly in a garden? (Briefly discuss image schema, profile, and trajectory-landmark structure and how they help understand spatial-relations and the meaning of prepositions like “in.”) (30-31)

28. What is meant by the claim that the source-path-goal (image) schema has an internal spatial “logic”? (32-33)

29. What are bodily projections? (How does this phenomenon reinforce LJ’s embodied realism?)

30. What point about the mainstream Western philosophical tradition do LJ make on pp. 36-37?

31. What is the view that the mind is disembodied? In what way does the view that mind is embodied challenge this? (37-38)

32. What did Narayanan discover, and how does that relate to “what linguists should recognize . . . immediately?” (how is this related to the construction and meaning of verbs?) What relevance all does this have to abstract reasoning? (41-42)

33. How do LJ use the previous sections in the book to argue for their thesis that our cognition, or thinking processes, are embodied? (42-44)

Chapter 4: Primary Metaphor and Subjective Experience

34. What kinds of connections are essential to conceptual metaphor? (45) How widespread is conceptual metaphor? (45)

35. Explain conflation and differentiation? (46, 48) primary metaphor (in Grady’s view)? (46, 49)) entailment at the neural level and metaphorical entailment? conceptual blending (47, 49)

36. In what three important ways is a conceptual metaphor like More Is Up embodied? (54)

37. With conceptual metaphor, does reasoning about the target domain get used to reason about the source domain? (55) LJ give a theoretical explanation of this fact on 55-56.

38. Why are many primary metaphors found around the world (in many cultures)? Are universal conceptual metaphors learned or innate? Approximately how many such widespread metaphors are there? Can normal human beings avoid acquiring primary metaphors? (56-67)

39. What does it mean to say that primary metaphors are cross-domain mappings? What are the two formats LJ will use to designate a metaphor? In each case, which part is in the source domain, which in the target domain? (57-58)

40. Can we think without metaphor? Is metaphor necessary for abstract thought? Of what are these metaphors consequences? (59)