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

Study Questions by Dr. Jan Garrett

Last revised April 7, 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 18: Aristotle

46. According to LJ, what folk theories does Aristotle share with Plato and the pre-Socratics? According to LJ, what is Being for Aristotle? (373)

47. Critical thinking question: Which of the following claims by LJ can you confirm from your direct study of Aristotle? (See the note appended to the end of these questions.)
    a. Aristotle reserves the term category for ten very general types of being.
    b. Aristotle sees Being as an object of study. (See passage cited on p. 374)
    c. Aristotle treats Being logically as a category.
    d. Aristotle assumes that each category in the hierarchy of being has an essence.

48. In what basic way does Aristotle differ from Plato? For Plato, of what does the highest reality consist? What is an essence for Plato? Where does Aristotle ultimately locate reality, and upon what does that make our thought dependent?

(By "world" here, understand the physical world outside us, together with the unmoved movers of the celestial spheres, which are also outside us. Note that Plato's ultimate realities, in spite of the term "ideas," are not in our minds as things are in containers.)

49. What is Aristotle's way of explaining the intelligibility of the world? (374)

50. What principle must everyone know who knows anything with respect to a special study? What is the relationship (for A.) between this and the world? How do LJ characterize Logos for Aristotle? ("Logos" seems to be Reason, or something like that.) What do LJ mean when they say that (for Aristotle) logic is transcendent? (375)

51. Why did Aristotle adopt the metaphor that Essence is Form? What metaphors then make it possible to say that the mind can grasp the form of things in the world directly? (Here is the passage we discussed earlier.) What metaphors related to the Mind, Understanding, and Ideas is Aristotle using? (375-76)

52. LJ say that Aristotle's ontological commitments come out of his metaphors. (376) Explain. (Note: technically, they should have said that "the sensible forms are in the sense faculty; the intelligible forms are in the mind.") Why is Aristotle not a skeptic? (376)

53. What is meant by "equivocation"? To what does systematic study of equivocations (like that between "sharp" in reference to a sharp (musical) note and "sharp" in reference to a knife) lead? What Aristotelian idea has been inherited by recent analytic philosophy? (377)

54. How is Aristotle's notion of efficient cause based in the Location Event-Structure metaphor? How does he arrive at his notions of material and formal causes? (378)

55. What is the basis for the primary metaphor Causes Are Reasons? (378) What does Aristotle do with this metaphor in his philosophy? (378) Explain Aristotle's understanding of teleology, insofar as it involves a telos and a regular pattern (i.e., form) of change? (378-79) In what sense is this a realist view? (379)

56. How does A. understand a definition? What does a definition express in terms of today's philosophy? (What Folk Theory and what Aristotelian metaphor generates the contemporary notion of concept?) What does correct definition in Aristotle's sense give us? (379)

57. What metaphor is central for Aristotelian logic? (380) (What distinction do LJ make in the second paragraph?) What do syllogisms provide, in Aristotle's view? Why? Of what are syllogisms "the central entire"? What is it important to put things in the right categories? (381)

58. What two central Aristotelian metaphors are missing from the philosophical framework of modern logic? What idea regarding logic has come down to us in contemporary formal logic? (382)

59. How does Aristotle's theory of knowledge lead to his literalist theory of meaning? (382-383 top)

60. Why couldn't Aristotle have come up with a theory of conceptual metaphor? (383)

61. What four points regarding Aristotle's position on metaphor do LJ note? (383) What interest did Aristotle as a scientist have in linguistic metaphor? (384)

62. Discuss one of the bizarre conceptual analyses of natural motion and change that Aristotle produced (returning to the natural state and returning to the natural place, for instance)? How do LJ explain this in terms of a failure to grasp that metaphors are cross-domain mappings? (384-85)

63. Why could Aristotle not "see" his own conceptual metaphors? (385-86) How do LJ explain the continued resistance within philosophy to the theory of conceptual metaphor? (386)

64. Why according to Aristotle can one not literally describe Being as one can the categories (LJ say "the ordinary categories")? Does it follow for A. that Being is meaningless? Explain. (387)

65. Why do the folk theories and conceptual metaphors underlying metaphysics seem to be self-evident facts to many people? (389) Is there anything ontologically absolute about the form/matter or substance/attribute metaphysics? What notion is "today almost totally discredited by a large number of philosophical traditions"? (389)

66. How do the forms of thought that emerged in early Greek philosophy continue at the heart of Western science? (390)

Note: Is Being a Category for Aristotle?

Aristotle implicitly addresses the question whether Being is a category that includes the beings in all the categories (listed in The Categories). See Metaphysics V.7.1017a24-28 (Irwin and Fine, Aristotle Selections, pp. 270-271) and VII.1.1028a13-20 and a29-32 (Irwin and Fine, pp. 272-73).

"Types of predications" (on Irwin-Fine p. 270) here refers to categories. Aristotle says that things are said to be in many ways. That is his way of saying that being has multiple meanings, not a single meaning.

He seems to have changed (or broadened) his conception of science between the Posterior Analytics (where different categories of subject-matter require different sciences) to the central books of Metaphysics. What holds together into one science the study of being qua being is that "it is because of substance that each of those other things [in non-substance categories] is also a being, so that what is in the primary way--what is . . . without qualification a being--is substance.

In this case, Aristotle seems to have stumbled upon the modern cognitive linguistic notion of a radial category (without calling it that), at least in the case of being. (And this may not be the only case in which he did so; he treats "good" in this way in Nicomachean Ethics Book I,chapter 6, and possibly friendship in Nic. Eth. VIII.

Nor does Aristotle limit himself to discovering the primary meaning of being, i.e., substance; he goes further to distinguish the primary meaning of substance from the other meanings, and gives primacy to the intelligible form in the individual substance.