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Metaphors We Live By [Paperback]

George Lakoff , Mark Johnson
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 15 2003 0226468011 978-0226468013 1
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.

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From the Inside Flap

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.

About the Author

George Lakoff is a professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of, among other books, Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things and Moral Politics, both published by the University of Chicago Press. Mark Johnson is the Knight Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Oregon. He is the author of The Body in the Mind and Moral Imagination, both published by the University of Chicago Press. Johnson and Lakoff have also coauthored Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought.

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Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent July 3 2004
Format:Paperback
This book could be considered to be one of the most intellectually honest of any book in print, for it unashamedly deals with commonsense notions of how the human mind deals with the world. One sometimes gets the impression that some works, especially on the philosophy of mind, tend to mystify or glamorize the workings of the mind. This book gives much weight to the use of metaphors for this purpose, and in doing so is faced with just how efficacious these metaphors are. The ordinary human conceptual system is fundamentally metaphorical it argues, and that metaphors are the predominant mode of cognition. The evidence for their assertion comes primarily from linguistics, and they give numerous examples of the metaphors that are employed by humans in everyday discussion and interactions with others. The authors emphasize though that metaphor is not just a linguistic notion, but that human thought processes themselves are largely metaphorical. So how do we study the metaphorical nature of thought? The author's answer is simple: we use metaphorical linguistic expressions to study the nature of metaphorical concepts. This will allow an understanding of the metaphorical nature of our activities.
The authors are careful to point out that the use of metaphors does, possess a notion of entailment, and that metaphorical entailments are able to characterize a coherent system of metaphorical concepts. Thus this system is not loose and unstructured, but rather similar in fact to the many systems of logic that one finds in computer science and in research in artificial intelligence. However, being able to view one aspect of a concept in terms of another will mask other aspects of this concept, and the authors give several interesting examples of this.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What the others have said is true, but........ Nov. 18 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book, although lacking empirical evidence (thank God we dont have to wade through that), is a good book for a particular audience - writers. The book is simplified but if you take the time to abstract its contents - there is a richness that will facilitate organization, clarity, and conciseness in your writing. In essence, you need to abstract your writing to the level of a few choice metaphors and then write to them. It is an exercise in frustration but the pay off is worth it. The result is a subtlety that most of your readers will not be able to pinpoint but acts like a glue to bind the entire writing into a satisfying gestalt. The book is about cognition and linguistics but take it for what it really is - one tool (a good tool) to help structure your thoughts and prose.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
*Metaphors We Live By* is a broader discussion of the living metaphors we use to think, created from our early experience as well as cultural use. Granted that Lakoff & Johnson's *Philosophy In The Flesh* is a more complete analysis of how second-generation cognitive science has confounded the philosophies that preceded it, including philosophic ideas that founded first-generation cognitive science, this book is less science-oriented and less contentious. Western philosophy has had no serious challenge from science until this generation, when experimental results demonstrated that the rational mind is not detachable from the brain that generates it. (There goes millenia of separating the mind and body.) *Metaphors We Live By* necessarily contends with older schemes of human nature, but if this is not a matter of controversy for the reader, it can be skipped. There are plenty of people who will sputter "but!" at the premise of the book, that >95% of our thinking is unconscious, shaped by empirically-based metaphors, and that most of philosophy is based on demonstrabily incorrect metaphors. Useful, not their last word on the subject, and you might find the Field Guide more useful yet if your interest is only in living metaphors and how to spot them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Way We Think ... & Talk Nov. 5 2003
Format:Paperback
Lakoff & Johnson demonstrate that metaphor is a basic function of human thought, and therefore of language, rather than something added to speech or literature to make it more beautiful, powerful, or poetic. Using the basic (or "conceptual metaphor"--their term) that 'argument is war', they demonstrate how our cultural assumption that war helps us understand arguments actually shapes our arguments--we argue (and discuss our arguments) as though we were fighting a war (e.g., "I shot down his main point", "She outflanked his argument", "We defeated their ...").
The point of "conceptual metaphor" is that unstated [implicit] basic, fundamental, or large-scale metaphors (such as 'argument is war') *make it possible* for us to describe argument in terms of armed conflict.
They then show that most of our speech (and therefore thought) is metaphorical, giving many examples of conceptual metaphors and how they show up, or are realize"d" (my term) in actual speech.
This book has set the tone for the discussion of metaphor since its publication, and continues to be cited widely in the literature of metaphor. It is therefore vital for any discussion of the modern view(s) of metaphor, and most highly recommended for anyone interested in communication, language, the mind, and, of course, metaphor.
On the other hand, I have found George Lakoff & Mark Turner's work (_More than Cool Reason: A Field Guide to Literary Metaphor; ISBN 0226468127) even more helpful, since they discuss how metaphors show up in, and what they mean, in literature, beginning with an extensive (56pp) discussion of literary metaphors for death (and time). This is a scintillating & stimulating book, that, IMHO, will capture the imagination of most readers of literature far more effectively than _Metaphors We Live By_.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars MUST FOR THOSE WHO INTERESTED IN LANGUAGE, MIND AND COGNITION
Among the books about language, thought and mind, I have recently read, this is surely one of the best. Read more
Published on March 11 2011 by SEOUROCK
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent thesis, clear presentation
This book will change the way you look at language. Often, when we think we are being literal and direct, we are using metaphors. And we don't even know it. Read more
Published on July 5 2004 by Tech Geek
5.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Book
What can I say as a person getting a biology degree that is interested in how the mind works? Language has been an interest of mine ever since I took a Metaphysics class last your... Read more
Published on Nov. 28 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars A Revolutionary Idea
If we talk about relationships we might say: "She was in the driver's seat" but we "reached a fork in the road" and now we're "on the rocks" and we may "go our separate ways. Read more
Published on April 16 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars A Revolutionary Insight
If we talk about relationships we might say: "She was in the driver's seat" but we "reached a fork in the road" and now we're "on the rocks" and we may "go our separate ways. Read more
Published on April 16 2002 by Charles Gillingham
5.0 out of 5 stars Readable and thought-provoking
As a writer with a strong interest in how language shapes our view of the world, I found this book exciting and stimulating. Read more
Published on Feb. 26 2002 by P. Lozar
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye-opener and very entertaining reading.
I think this book is for all of us who are not linguists or writers !! It is so important to realize how much our thoughts are shaped by prejudiced ways of framing our concepts. Read more
Published on Jan. 26 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Introduction to Epistemology
This book marks the beginning of a real, live epistemology which everyone can understand. By means of everyday phrases that we all use, Lakoff and Johnson gradually develop the... Read more
Published on May 29 2001 by Lester M. Stacey
2.0 out of 5 stars Belaboring the obvious
The human cognitive system is predisposed towords catagorizing, both for computational and storage efficiency, it seems. Read more
Published on July 5 2000 by Michael J. Edelman
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