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Metaphors We Live By (1980)

by George Lakoff, Mark Johnson, Mark Johnson (Author)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,957115,847 (3.94)10
The now-classic Metaphors We Live By changed our understanding of metaphor and its role in language and the mind. Metaphor, the authors explain, is a fundamental mechanism of mind, one that allows us to use what we know about our physical and social experience to provide understanding of countless other subjects. Because such metaphors structure our most basic understandings of our experience, they are "metaphors we live by"--metaphors that can shape our perceptions and actions without our ever noticing them. In this updated edition of Lakoff and Johnson's influential book, the authors supply an afterword surveying how their theory of metaphor has developed within the cognitive sciences to become central to the contemporary understanding of how we think and how we express our thoughts in language.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
The book is structured as really a series of essays, which leads to a lot of repetition; I think it could be edited down to ¼ of its size. Still, worth the read!
  porges | Jun 15, 2020 |
My biggest take away is becoming aware of the metaphors that shape my experience. Thinking about what they hide and highlight, thinking about why I use those metaphors and what other metaphors I could be using.

Beyond that, there's a whole lot of set up for big shots against objectivist and subjectivist views of truth. Not sure I understand it well enough to talk about it. Seems like there's something worthwhile in here but I need to let it stew for a bit and come back later. ( )
1 vote haagen_daz | Jun 6, 2019 |
Because Jane Hirshfeld spoke well of it, and it sounds like the kind of book I'd like.
  theparsley | Mar 24, 2016 |
I think it's hard* for anyone who spends* a significant* amount* of time thinking about words and their interaction* with thought, whether professionally, out of simple* proclivity, or what, to get an accurate picture* of the importance of the argument given* here. Metaphors, which are linguistic in nature* structure* our thought in a direct* and meaningful* manner*: an individual or a society in which the metaphor LOVE IS WAR* is deeply* embedded* or which gravitates* to it as a matter* of preference is one that is going to* have radically* different ways* of approaching* and understanding* his or her or its love-relationships and building* practices around* them than one in which that metaphor is superseded* by one like LOVE IS MADNESS* (although both may certainly* coexist* and have* their respective* effects*). They do this through* "entailments,"* which may or may not be metaphors themselves: if love is war,* it requires strategy,* it involves suffering, there are winners and losers.*

This seems so clear,* so basic.* We'd rather construct* speculative castles* trying* to prove* that the apparent* effects* of these funny* unsystematicities* are illusory* and we're all liberal rationalists* at heart* (Chomsky, Rawls, Quine) or rejecting* that hope* of succour* in various* perverse* ways* (Derrida, Gadamer, or focusing* (again* in v. p. ways!*) on the behaviour* and not the framework* (Wittgenstein**, Skinner, who I never* thought I'd place in one basket* like this, Austin/Searle*). But I think this approach* is more parsimonious,* simpler,* more egallitarian,* truer.* It gives* the person on the street* a way* into understanding* the relation between* their* language and thought that is intuitively plausible.

Lakoff and Johnson give us more,* though. They give us* not only "conventional"* but also "new"* metaphors: let us* for instance* forget LOVE IS MADNESS* ("I'm crazy about her,"* etc.) as an alternative* to LOVE IS WAR and consider* instead LOVE IS A COLLABORATIVE WORK OF ART.* The long* list of entailments* that L&J provide* reveals* before* us a vision* of difference (bringing with it,* in this case,* a beauty* unconscionable* in LOVE IS WAR-land*): "Love is work,"* "Love requires cooperation," "Love is an aesthetic experience,"* "Love is primarily valued* for its own sake*," Love creates* a reality,"* "Love needs* funding (ha!)"* "Love yields* a shared* aesthetic satisfaction from your joint* efforts,"* and so on.* This is nothing short* of a glimpse* of a better* future,* if we can only* gain control* of our unruly* words (humanity: wrestling Proteus* since 100,000 BC), expand* our consciousness* to encompass* what is now our verbal unconscious.

And frankly, I think even the conventional* metaphors have more* to explore* than is immediately* evident.* Some are more occult* than others, and when you* try* to identify* them, you start* to realize* how much* of our "Standard Average European"* (two bits* to Whorf for that term) wor(l)dview* is a matter* of substances,* actions, and observation* of them. Terms like "have,"* "more,"* "big,"* "get"*--all bearing* substantive* entailments,* all wildly* and constantly* metaphorical. "Take,"* "make,"* "see,"* etc., etc., all of course* of endless* metaphoricity. It's easy* to imagine,* but seemingly* impossible* to really get your head around,* some alternative* like a lifeworld* or linguaculture* in which these kinds of processes* or events* or whatever* are expressed* in terms of* a causeless*, internally* driven* unfolding* of monadistic* selfnesses," or a kind of gestalt world,* or the famous Nootka "it* is lengthwise* on the beach* as an event* of canoe motion.*" So I mean*, that gets into crazy* profusion.* Possibly* we're better off* just* using* L&J to help* us see* LOVE as a COLLABORATIVE WORK OF ART* and not WAR* all the time,* or like,* something* equally* "modest."

*THESE ARE ALL METAPHORS, or at least arguably.* Lakoff and Johnson might* not be so profuse.*
**Wittgenstein maybe comes* closest* to Lakoff and Johnson's* approach* with his "language-games,"* and actually* the radical*^ agentivity* in his* concept* appeals* to me more--but I have to* acknowledge* the unconscious* structuring* role* of language too, even if I'd rather see* us as speaking our own destinies* with infinite* eloquence*--and L&J do the best job* of explaining it as far* as I can tell.* And hey! We can consciously* try* to use* better,* healthier* metaphors.
^I seem to reach* either for "wildness"* (profusion,* phantasmagoria,* etc.) or "radicalness"* (fundamentalness,* basicness*) in talking about language--one hand* touching earth,* the other grasping* at the stars,* perhaps?) ( )
3 vote MeditationesMartini | Jun 9, 2013 |
moving this close to the top of the wishlist.
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lakoff, Georgeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Johnson, Markmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Johnson, MarkAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
González Marín, CarmenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Millán, José AntonioIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Narotzky, SusanaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Andy and The Gherkin
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Metaphor is for most people a device of the poetic imagination and the rhetorical flourish - a matter of extraordinary rather than ordinary language.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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