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 5 The Anatomy of Complex Metaphor
Chapter 6 Embodied Realism: Cognitive Science vs. A Priori Philosophy
Chapter 7 Realism and Truth
Chapter 8 Metaphor and Truth

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 5: The Anatomy of Complex Metaphor

41. What are complex metaphors? (Although LJ refer to “molecular” metaphors, the “molecular” drops out after the initial introduction of the notion of complex metaphors.) What is true regarding “a great many” of these metaphors? How pervasive are they in our lives? (60)

42. Consider the complex metaphor “Life Is a Journey.” What cultural belief and pair of primary metaphors generates a metaphorical version of that belief? How do these together entail a complex metaphorical mapping, which has four submetaphors? And what are the submetaphors? (61-62)

43. How does this complex metaphor generate guidelines for life? (62)

44. What results for material culture does the complex metaphor have? (63)

45. Do all cultures have this complex metaphor? Explain. (63)

46. In what are complex metaphors grounded? How are their grounds grounded in turn? (63)

47. What do LJ use the “Love is a Journey” metaphor to illustrate about complex metaphors like “Life is a Journey”? How is the “Love is …” metaphor reflected in conventional expressions?

48. In what ways can the “Love is . . .” metaphor be used to reason with? (65-66)

49. LJ claim that the “Love is . . .” metaphor is “cognitively real”? (What do they mean?) What evidence do they claim for this assertion? (66)

50. Why do most people immediately (i.e., without conscious reasoning) grasp novel metaphors like that illustrated in the song lyric about the “fast lane of love”? (66-67)

51. How does the theory of conceptual metaphor make sense out of a large number of familiar idioms? (67-68) Aside: Most of these idioms have never been studied by “ordinary language” philosophers!

52. Why are metaphorical idioms of philosophical importance? (69) To understand these five points we must understand at least the following:

conventional mental image (e.g., the spinning wheels of a stuck car),
knowledge about that image,
source-domain knowledge,
target-domain knowledge,
What aspects of the meaning do LJ urge us to distinguish? (last sentence, last full para on p. 69)

53. How do LJ defend their use of the term “metaphor” to cover both the everyday and the novel cases? Traditionally, which of these cases were called metaphor? (69-70)

54. How do our descriptions of love illustrate the main idea of the section on pp. 70-71?

55. What point do LJ make about the way in which we conceptualize concepts like time, causation, morality, and the mind? Why is there so much apparent disagreement in philosophy? What assumption do philosophers tend to make that lead them to such disagreements? When it is argued that concepts have multiple metaphorical structures, how do philosophers often respond? (71)

56. Would we have much of a concept of love if it were only literal? (72)

57. In what two ways can a metaphor be apt? (72) How does the notion of a metaphor’s aptness depend on embodied realism? (73)

58. Can we replace a metaphor by literal truth conditions? (72) Regarding such replacement, LJ have in mind something like this:

“When John and Mary are together, they fit like a puzzle” is true if and only if John and Mary are in relation R to one another (where R is described in entirely non-metaphorical language).

Chapter 6: Embodied Realism: Cognitive Science vs. A Priori Philosophy

59. According to LJ, what does the tradition of analytic philosophy assert about concepts? What views defended by LJ do analytic philosophers tend to reject out of hand? (74)

60. What challenge do many postmodern philosophers and post-Kuhnian philosophers of science raise for the critique embodied realism hopes to make of traditional philosophy?

61. How do LJ describe first-generation cognitive science? In particular, what was its relationship to the dominant paradigm in Anglo-American philosophy at the time? In what sense was it dualistic? (75-76)

62. What were the two prevailing attitudes about meanings? What two notions of representation corresponded to these traditions? How was mind embodied in the brain in these views? Why do LJ say that first-generation cognitive science was a modern version of the Cartesian view? (76; see also question 64)

63. What two kinds of evidence by the late 1970’s challenged the assumptions of first-generation cognitive science? (77) What does meaning “have to do with” according to second-generation cognitive science? (78)

64. What five philosophical commitments did first-generation cognitive science make? (78-79) Were these based on empirical studies? (79)

65. What cognitive commitments are needed for an empirically responsible inquiry? (79-80) Why is it important that our cognitive commits no determine results? (80)

66. How has the relationship between cognitive science and philosophy been reversed? (81)

67. How does study of historical semantic change converge with independent work on conceptual metaphor? (85)

68. What do the psychological experiments show about conventional (conceptual-metaphor) mappings? What do the historical data show? (87)

69. How did second-generation cognitive science escape the presuppositions of analytic philosophy that hamstrung first-generation cognitive science? Can cognitive science do its work without philosophical awareness? (88)

70. What post-Kuhnian ideas do LJ accept? (bottom 88-top 89) Does this mean there can be no stable science or lasting scientific results? Explain. (89)

71. What three claims characterize what LJ call “disembodied objective scientific realism”? Which of these claims do LJ accept unmodified? Which do they accept, modified, and how would they modify it? Which do they reject and why? (90)

72. What is at the heart of embodied realism, for LJ? (90)

73. How does science (and technology) extend our “basic level capacities” for perception and manipulation? (91)

74. What two important findings “fill out” embodied realism? (91)

75. What makes convergent evidence convincing? (91)

76. In what way is embodied scientific realism compatible with post-Kuhnian philosophy of science? Are LJ optimistic that a unified theory of physics may be found? How do they characterize scientific revolutions? (92)

77. What two conceptions of objectivity arise once an “ontological chasm” is made between “subject” and “object”? Why are they erroneous? What did classical disembodied scientific realism miss? What has always made science possible? (93)

Chapter 7: Realism and Truth

78. How do LJ characterize Aristotelian metaphysical realism? (93)

79. What happened to metaphysical realism in the philosophy of Descartes? (93-94)

80. What are representations in the most popular current (“analytic”) version of “disembodied representational realism”? Why do LJ say that this sort of realism maximizes the chasm between mind and world? (94)

81. What, for LJ and embodied realism (ER), is realism about? What does it give up on?

82. What three aspects do LJ attribute to the “direct” realism of the Greeks? Compare symbol-system realism and ER to classical direct realism. (96) This could be done in a 4 x 4 chart. On the top row, boxes 2-4 would be “Realism,” “Directness,” and “Absoluteness,” respectively, in the first row, boxes 2-4 would be “Direct Realism,” “Symbol-System Realism,” and “Embodied Realism.”

83. In what sense is ER relativistic? (96)What central insight of relativism does it accept? (96-97)

84. How does ER account for real, stable knowledge (two main aspects)? (96)

85. Upon what does the enterprise of analytic philosophy’s symbol-system realism depend? (98)

86. What is the correspondence theory in its simplest form? What kind of theory is needed then to bridge the symbol-world gap?

87. What problem do LJ find in the Fregean theory of reference, a classical example of a theory that meaning (sense or connotation) determines reference? (98-99) What is claimed by the Kripke-Putnam (causal) theory of reference, and what problem do LJ find in it? (99)

88. How do they diagnose the common problem of Fregean and causal theories of reference? (99)

89. How does the introduction of “propositions” create two gaps? (99-100)

90. What three gaps are created by recent “formal analytic philosophy”? (100) What promise was made about filling the first gap? Has it been kept? Can it be kept, according to LJ? (100)

91. How do most formal philosophers respond to the third gap? (101) Why do LJ find this unpersuasive? (101-102)

92. How do LJ diagnose the problem with the classical correspondence theory of truth? (102) Note: this covers not merely the Cartesian and recent analytic versions but also probably, with some qualifications, the implicit Aristotelian version.

93. Explain what LJ mean by “neural embodiment” (102-103); “phenomenological” conscious experience (103); the “cognitive unconscious” (103).

94. Are these three levels independent of one another? What does a full understanding of the mind require? (104)

95. How do LJ resolve the apparent inconsistency between phenomenological and scientific truths, for instance, with respect to the greenness of grass? (104-105)

96. What is LJ’s notion of embodied truth? (How is this a theory that takes into account our embodied understanding?) (106) Why is embodied truth not merely subjective truth? (107)

97. How does embodied truth make sense of social truth? Conflicting social truths? (107)

98. How do LJ argue that truth is not something that can be defined by a priori philosophy? (108)

99. Create a chart with four columns and seven rows. In the top row, enter “Recognizes validity of description and/or explanation” in the first box, “at the neural level” in the second, “at the level of the cognitive unconscious” in the third, and “at the phenomenological level” in the fourth. Then, in the first box for rows 2-7, place, respectively, “Husserl and Dreyfus,” “Chomsky and Fodor,” “The Churchlands,” “John Searle,” “Certain functionalist developmental psychologists,” and, finally, “Lakoff and Johnson.” Now, put an X in each currently empty box that applies. You now have a map of major differences in the philosophy of science of the mind. (See LJ 108)

100. What illusion must embodied truth give up? What do LJ mean by “real”?

101. Are LJ eliminative materialists? Are they physicalists? (110) What does the “classical eliminativist program in the philosophy of science assert”? (112)

102. In what ways is the Neural Theory of Language (NTL) paradigm both physicalist and non-eliminative? (112-top 114)

103. Physicalism, apparently, may be understood in two ways. What is physicalism for a philosophy in which metaphysics precedes epistemology? (114) How are metaphysics and epistemology related in embodied realism? So how does ER understand physicalism? (114)

104. What kind of nonphysical entities and structures do embodied realists take as “real”? (114-15)

105. What is it to say that the cognitive unconscious is efficacious? (top 115) How do LJ respond to John Searle’s rejection of the cognitive unconscious? (bottom 115-17) Use the paragraphs about basic-level concepts or conceptual metaphor to fill out this answer.

Chapter 8: Metaphor and Truth

106. Why is it philosophically crucial whether reason is embodied and whether metaphor is conceptual? (118)

107. How do LJ argue (in a nutshell) that “the views of reality, truth, language, knowledge, and morality . . . tied to the traditional theory of metaphor must be false”? (118)

108. Why does the traditional theory “have to” treat metaphor as irrelevant to fundamental philosophical questions?

109. Consider the central tenets of the traditional theory (119). Metaphor is a matter of ___? Is metaphor part of ordinary conventional language? What do conventional metaphorical expressions in ordinary language amount to? What do metaphors express?

110. What common folk theory does the traditional theory of metaphor fit? (119) For what sort of concepts is this folk theory basically right? (120)

111. What has Western philosophy done with the commonsense folk theory? (120)

112. Why does the commonsense folk theory conceal the true nature of metaphorical thought? (120)

113. Which tenets of the traditional theory of metaphor logically follow from the objectivist interpretation of the commonsense theory of language? (121)

114. If metaphor is based on similarity as the traditional theory holds, who two objectivist claims must be true? (121)

115. If, as traditional philosophy claims, there are no metaphorical concepts, what must metaphors be (two possibilities)? (122) What assumption about metaphor do objectivists like Aristotle and Searle and relativists like Nietzsche share? (122)

116. How do LJ use “Love Is a Journey” to show the falsity of Tenet I of the traditional view of metaphor? How do they disprove Tenet 2 of the traditional view? (123)

117. How do they disprove Tenet 4? In what sense are grasp and comprehend live metaphors? (Are these metaphors similar to each other in their historical development?) Why do LJ say that pedigree is a real example of a dead metaphor? (124-25) What test do LJ give for determining whether a metaphor is alive or dead? (126)

118. Discuss one or more arguments against the claim (Tenet 5) that metaphors express similarity. (The third argument is perhaps easiest to grasp, if you understand the target-source distinction that is essential to the definition of conceptual metaphor.) (126-27)

119. In the last section of this chapter, LJ lay out some philosophical implications of metaphorical thought. Their views on the following questions can be stated in one-word answers to these questions (see p. 128):

a. Do we have the freedom to avoid using metaphorical modes of thought?
b. Can we easily form abstract concepts without metaphor?
c. How much of our reasoning is metaphorical?
d. Would abstract scientific theorizing be possible without metaphor?
e. Is a proper understanding of metaphorical concepts consistent with the classical correspondence theory of truth?
f. Are reason and concepts essentially independent of the body?
g. Do many of our commonsense views about reality arise from metaphor?
120. Why, according to LJ, does formal logic have no resources for characterizing any of the aspect of human concepts and reason discussed in part I of the book? (128)

121. Could we eliminate metaphor without eliminating philosophy? (129)