Gene Expression

Why Lakoff matters

I have a post on my other blog about why Lakoff matters. Here is the conclusion:

In short, I think the problem with Lakoff’s ideas are two fold: 1) the science is probably wrong, so it has little utilitarian value aside from enriching Lakoff 2) the false perception that the science is correct and can be used to persuade people basically leaves liberals totally vulnerable to being laughed at (a lot of the stuff that Lakoff acolytes say about the Right is giggle-inducing! Pinker is describing a real phenomenon, as I’ve chuckled myself). If I was a particularly partisan non-liberal I would probably let it rest, as it is good for the Right for the Left to hold to Lakoff closely, just as it is good for the Left for Christian fundamentalists to continue speaking like raving Bible-thumpers outside of their own circles. But in the end politics is epiphenomenal, the truth shall outlive us all, and only one culture has spawned science in the history of our species. That demands our reverence (at least mine) far more than who will win in 2006, or 2026.


  1. #1 mac
    October 9, 2006


  2. #2 Bradley Cooke
    October 9, 2006

    The problem with Lakoff’s metaphor theory is that its not falsifiable. How does one test the theory that we use metaphors to think? Its impossible, and it shares this characteristic with many other “associationist” theories about cognition. Yes, he does say that metaphor is embodied, but you’d have to be nuts (and a disembodied nut, at that) to say otherwise.

    As a conservative/libertarian, I have yet to see anyone respond to Pinker’s important and powerful rebuttal to Lakoff that progressive politics are inherently authoritarian, that socialism and its derivatives are bound, almost by physical law, to concentrate power in the hands of the few. Having met George Lakoff and many other progressives while at Berkeley, I can say that their arrogance and certainty in the righteousness of their point of view led me to feel quite certain about Pinker’s hypothesis. Whose freedom? The answer is, it is George Lakoff’s freedom.

  3. #3 Naser
    October 10, 2006

    Hmm.. I wonder..are you “THE” rajib I’m thinking of? I didn’t know charukola students kept science related blogs !! But OMG, nice going (if its the real you)

  4. #4 John Emerson
    October 10, 2006

    But in the end politics is epiphenomenal.

    Tell it to the Albigensians.

    From the point of view of fundamental physics, all human life is epiphenomenal.

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