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The Battle for September

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Metaphors We Live By is an interesting, thought provoking book that explores the relatively basic idea that human beings prefer to share knowledge by using ideas with which they are already familiar. In doing this they can create new concepts, give more meaning to their language, etc. The human mind is believed to categorize new thoughts and experiences as related to other more familiar ones, which goes a long way to explaining why we tend to find metaphors useful.

In Metaphors We Live By the author's ask why and how civilizations create and utilize these metaphors to express concepts we now take as common sense. The book provides many examples of how people talk in metaphors without even realizing it. Beyond that, the authors explain that the human thought process itself is metaphorical. They explore these metaphorical concepts by looking closely at metaphorical language. Lakoff and Johnson provide the reader with many examples of how we talk, conceptualize and reason in metaphors; argument is war (Lakoff 4), time is money (Lakoff 7), happy rational and more are up (Lakoff 15), the mind is brittle (Lakoff 28), inflation is an adversary (Lakoff 34), love is a physical force (Lakoff 49), etc. The authors admit to not having significant information about the experimental bases for these metaphors. However, they do explain that because of metaphors when people communicate who do not share the same culture, knowledge, values, and assumptions, mutual understanding can be difficult (Lakoff 231). This is because people experience life in a way that our culture is already present in the very experience itself. (Lakoff 57)

The book continues into discussions about what is truth and how you define it. The authors argue that metaphors are more than just linguistic expressions and while they may not directly state objective absolute truths they do state truth. (Lakoff 159) To promote this they provide examples of how humans understand a sentence as being truth and that in order to understand a sentence in this way we must comprehend the separate ideas as relative to certain larger categories of experience. (Lakoff 167) Understanding metaphors as truth only differs in that we must understand one thing in terms of another. (Lakoff 171)

One area that I believe that the book is less convincing is in relating metaphor to the myths of objectivism, subjectivism and now experientialism. This may be simplified (or perhaps over simplified) to state that objectivism believes in absolute truth and the external world, whereas subjectivism believes that you can make the world in your own image (Lakoff 185) and that meaning means something "to" a person. (Lakoff 227) However, the authors state that both of these theories miss on how humans understand the world which is though our interactions with it. (Lakoff 194) Objectivism does not account for the fact that understanding is necessarily relative



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