Study Questions for Lakoff and Johnson,
Philosophy in the Flesh, Part III

Study Questions by Dr. Jan Garrett

Last revised April 6, 2007

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

Chapter 15: The Cognitive Science of Philosophy

1. What are philosophical theories trying to do? (337) In what sense are LJ trying to apply cognitive science to philosophy in this (third) part of the book? (337-38)

2. When philosophers construct their theories, what resources are they employing and what do they do with these resources? (338, 340-41) What do abstract philosophical ideas and theories grow out of? (339)

3. What do LJ mean by "folk theories"? (339-40; see also 346-52)

4. What (two) sorts of critical assessments does the cognitive science of philosophy make possible? (341-42)

5. What two types of positive (constructive) guidance can philosophy informed by self-critical cognitive science give?

6. In what sense are LJ's analyses "rational reconstructions"? (343) How do they differ from classical versions inspired by mainstream 20th century philosophy? How are they constrained? (343)

7. What three conclusions do they anticipate? (345)

Chapter 16: The Pre-Socratics

8. What does the very project of seeking knowledge assume? (346)

9. What folk theories are introduced on p. 347? What three source domains are at work in the three metaphors for Essence? (347)

10. What is the second way the concept of essence is metaphorical? (347 bottom) See also pp. 214-15 where the Folk Theory of Essence and the Essences as Causes metaphor is first mentioned.

11. What is the "immediate consequence" of the FT's of General Kinds and Essences? (348)

12. What is the fateful first step toward metaphysics in Western philosophy? (348)

13. What three possibilities arise when once we begin the search for higher and higher categories? (348-349) What folk theory corresponds to accepting the third alternative? (349)

14. Why do LJ call this "optimistic"? What profound problem may be associated with it? (349)

15. What folk theories do the Milesian philosophers seem to adopt? What question did the try to answer? (What did they mean when they focused on "Being"?) (350)

16. What FT of the elements did many Greeks share even before philosophy emerged?

17. What metaphor answered the question concerning the essence of being for the Milesians?

18. How did the FT of General Kinds lead Thales to his answer to this question? (352-53) What FT did Thales' metaphor presuppose? (353)

19. What problem did Anaximander recognize in Thales' reasoning? What reasonable assumption did he make? How does he metaphorically conceive the essence of being? (354) To what unsolvable problem did Anaximander come? How was this generated by two FT's and one logical principle? (354)

20. How does Anaximenes understand the essence of being and solve the puzzles regarding the underlying identity of earth, water, air, and fire?

21. What is the logic of metaphysical questions, according to LJ? (356) How does a tree exhibit all three metaphorically conceived types of essence? (356)

22. Why is the question of Being a strange one for most nonphilosophers? (356) What FT's generate this question? (356; cf. 349) How is the Folk Theory of the All-Inclusive Category alive in contemporary religion? (357)

23. How are the anti-metaphysical philosophies of the twentieth century defined? (357, toward the bottom)

24. What strategy do the Milesians adopt to answer the question how one gets at Being itself? What possibility is taken up by Parmenides and Zeno (the Eleatics)?

25. How do LJ explain the Milesian strategy to conceptualize the Essence of Being? Does this involve metaphor? (358)

26. In what sense is Being a conceptual creation? Nonbelief in what might motivate somebody to say that the Problem of Metaphysics is a pseudo-problem? (358-59)

27. What aspect of the sensible world does Heraclitus regard as revealing the essence of Being? (His key metaphor is: ___ ) (360)

28. What aspect of what is do the Pythagoreans regard as revealing the essence of Being? How does this differ from what is common to the Milesians? (361)

29. What reasoning involving knowability seems to be behind the Pythagorean position on the Essence of Being? (361)

30. What metaphors for thinking, ideas, and logical conclusions reinforce the Pythagorean view? (362)

31. How does Pythagorean philosophy lead to a belief in nonphysical causes? (362) How does this relate to theoretical physics today in its popular presentation? (362)

32. What, according to LJ, is the essence of being for Parmenides? for the early Atomists? for Sophists like Protagoras? (363)