If conservatives had looked into their own minds they would not have been able to see there whom they were speaking of

The Political Mind, Part III (Chapter 2), Chris sayeth:

Anyway, now on to that part I promised you about how real conservatives don't exist, or at least not in great numbers. Towards the end of this chapter, Lakoff gives us the concept of "biconceptualism." This means that some people have both progressive and conservative thoughts -- that is, they dig obedience in some areas of politics, and empathy in others (the two are mutually contradictory, so they certainly can't go together in the same political policy!). Unfortunately for us progressives, most conservatives don't realize they're really biconceptuals. Or as Lakoff puts it, "Many self-identified 'conservatives' have many, many progressive views without being aware of it" (p. 70). That's because these things are all unconscious (that's true, they are), and separate in our brains (that's probably true too), so conservatives never consciously run into contradictions in their thinking, even though they're really mostly progressives. You see, "biconceptualism is simply a fact about brains" (p. 71), and research has shown that we can resolve contradictions unconsciously (he throws in some gratuitous neuroscience here to tell us which regions of the brain neuroimagers have guessed this might, possibly, if we squint really hard at the data, take place in). Oh, and some bullshit about neural binding is in there too. Ugh.


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Chapter 2 of Lakoff's new book is titled "The Political Unconscious, and it's absolutely terrible. It's also the first chapter likely to really piss off conservatives, or really anyone who might approach the chapter critically. Oh, and it has plenty of gratuitous neuroscience to top it all off.…
The first thing to say about Chapter 1 is that it's much better written than the Introduction. In fact, if you buy the book, I recommend skipping the introduction, and starting with Chapter 1. Chapter 1 is, in fact, the best chapter in the book. That's because it contains a pretty good discussion…
Well, I've got Lakoff's new book, The Political Mind, and I've read the first few chapters, so I figured I'd start sharing my thoughts about them. For now, I'll do it on a chapter by chapter basis, which makes sense, because the chapters are pretty disjointed and, at least after the first few, it's…
Update: OK, a pro is in the house. Chris of Mixing Memory starts: I don't really know where to start on this. Lakoff's reply is one of the most intellectually dishonest pieces of writing I've seen from a cognitive scientist, and if anyone other than Lakoff had written it, I'd probably just ignore…

What? You mean people can't normally be shoved into one particular pigeon-hole? Say it ain't so!!

It's not a republican characteristic. It's the "label" phenomenon. People like labels, even for themselves, even though they probably don't fit comfortably under that label. It's the same for liberals, libertarians, socialists, any political leaning you care to mention. A democrat is only a democrat because that is where most of their policies lay. On the other hand I've seen democrats and republicans who only adhere to one or two policy ideas and the rest is wildly different, but they call themselves what they do because those issues are the most important for them. They really see themselves as liberal or conservative, but they aren't.... not in any real sense of the word.

I make it a point not to describe myself with any political label, but I get called a lot of things depending on who I talk to. My politics don't change, but it's the subject that's important, not what I actually believe in.

Your link goes to this post, not to the review.

Will G, Lakoff would argue that there are people who can be pigeon-holed with one label. They're called progressives. Conservatives are just progressives waiting to be properly pigeon holed, really.

some people have both progressive and conservative thoughts

So...people are confused. Inconsistent. Hypocritical. Contradictory. Unwilling to think things through.

What a revelation.

On the flip side is Al Gore a conservative who thinks he is a progressive? He owns an enormous mansion, lives a lavish lifestyle and flies around the world in private jets.

By Howard K Stern (not verified) on 06 Jul 2008 #permalink