[Read] ➻ Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things ➸ George Lakoff – 91videos.co

Its Publication Should Be A Major Event For Cognitive Linguistics And Should Pose A Major Challenge For Cognitive Science In Addition, It Should Have Repercussions In A Variety Of Disciplines, Ranging From Anthropology And Psychology To Epistemology And The Philosophy Of Science Lakoff Asks What Do Categories Of Language And Thought Reveal About The Human Mind Offering Both General Theory And Minute Details, Lakoff Shows That Categories Reveal A Great Deal David E Leary, American Scientist

10 thoughts on “Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things

  1. says:

    If this book was a couple of hundred pages shorter I would recommend it to just about anyone The central idea is both interesting and important but I think the book isn t quite sure about who its audience ought to be and this gets in the way I didn t quite finish the last of the case studies, he did warn it would be long, but I lost the thread and figured I had gotten all I needed from the book by then, anyway.I ve been reading a few books lately that have questioned how the categories we use to divide up the world impact on how we are able to understand the world Foucault s The Order of Things, is a case in point in that Foucault traces the remarkably similar changes in the underlying categories used to understand economics, biology and linguistics over nearly 400 years and how changes in these categories amounted to revolutions in the way these subjects were understood In fact, the new categories changed how we understood our world in so far as that world is made up of bodies, money and language.What this book doesn t say is that with our thoughts we make the world , this is not a book of fundamental subjectivism what it does say is that with out categories we structure the world in ways that say at least as much about us as we say about the world Which is the other thing I ve been reading a lot about lately that we are anything but brains in vats, we are anything but Cartesian minds longing to be separated from our all too human bodies This book is formed on the idea that the mind body split is problematic on all levels and that we had just better get used to the idea that the fact we have bodies is going to say something important about how we go about understand the world.As he says very early in this, thought is embodied, thought is imaginative, thought has gestalt properties and thought has an ecological structure Essentially, thought is relative, relative to our mode of existence and relative to the cognitive structures we create in seeking to understand the world on the basis of our experience of the world but thought is anything but purely arbitrary or infinitely malleable This is what he refers to as his experiential realism The objective world exists, but he wants to show the differences between his view of that world and what he refers to as the objectivist view Such an objectivist view sees truth as transcendental that the truth for us humans and for, say, machines would be exactly the same because it would be based on some Kantian or Platonic world of perfect rationality such a world, he claims, simply does not exist All of this relates to what he calls the correspondence theory of our thoughts, how our thoughts correspond to objective reality and this is why we need categories and this is why what our categories say about our understanding of the world is so important Much of what we learn about the world is based on us putting things into categories where like things go with other like things But even our simplest categories are much complicated than we generally imagine This is because the objectivist view has categories that are essentially based on Plato s forms that is, that there is out there in the netherworld a ghostly version of a table, there is a category of the perfect table, and that all real manifestations of tables only approximate that perfect table The category of table is such that while no real table is ever a perfect table, it is a table only in so far as it matches our category of tableness, shares in the properties of being a table In this sense, categories are pretty well given and pure and it is the world that is a bit off Categories are made up of things that all share certain properties and this should be utterly unproblematical, either you have that common property or you don t And since categories are decided on the basis of properties that exist in the things being categorised then it really shouldn t matter who is doing the categorising The categories should say about the world than they say about those who use the categories If the categories are logical, then they should be universal A bit like Hegel s what is rational is real, what is real is rational These two ideas of categories, that they are properties of things and therefore independent of who uses the categories, are both effectively wrong This leads us away from what might be a god s eye view of the world and leaves us with what is our all too human view.If a category is made up of things that all share the same properties then it would seem to make sense that none of those things should be central than any other thing in the same category This could be called the rose is a rose is a rose idea of categories The problem is that most categories are anything like as simple as that Take the category of bird Clearly there are lots of different kinds of birds robins and kookaburras and chickens But what is strange is that certain examples of birds are simply better at being birds than others There is a real sense that if I say bird you are much likely to think of a robin or a sparrow than an emu or a penguin But how can this be if they are all examples of the same category You know, no one doubts that a penguin is a bird it just doesn t come unbidden to our minds when we think of an example of a bird.In just the same context there is a fascinating discussion about colours This is something Pinker touches on in The Language Instinct, but it is much interesting here If a language has only two words for colours they will be warm and cool effectively black and white Reds and oranges and yellows will end up in the warm category and brown and green and so on in the other There are eleven colours that are considered basic basic in the sense that a robin is a basic bird and endless colours that are or less just showing off But he then goes on to show that you can get a culture that has only two words for colours and teach them made up names for other colours and those people will easily learn these new colours Not just that, they will be able to also show you a good example of what red or blue is and this will be remarkably identical to what someone who has a language with just such colours would choose as exemplars of these colours This seems to go against the thesis that categories are arbitrary or even socially defined that is, why should it be the case at all that there should be a good example for red even for people who don t even have a word for red The reason seems to have to do with the light receptors in our eyes work These pick up either red or green, or they pick up blue or yellow There is a time when your red green receptor picks up lots of red but no green and this will be the perfect red For this reason too we are able to think of a colour half way between blue and green oh, the blue green sea tossed the boat but not a colour half way between red and green oh, the red green sky Light comes in a continuum of colours physically, there is always a space between one frequency red and another green but our bodies just don t work that way It seems, and he develops this argument in his first case study, that concepts such as anger are also rather universally understood across cultures and also based on physical reactions within our bodies When we are angry our pulse rate increases, our ability to think diminishes, our body temperature goes up and so on All of these physical changes then feed into our concept of what anger is This also structures the kinds of metaphors we are able to use for anger Anger is likely to be metaphorically compared to an explosion or to fire, but not to something that is, say, soft or cuddly The great rabbit of anger Perhaps this is part of the reason why these ads are so disturbing If anger is to be a colour it is much likely to be red than green But these metaphors are only really understandable due to them being based on clear physiological phenomena that occur in our bodies our cognitive understanding of anger depends on how anger is manifest physically in our bodies.Categories are complex things and not always logical in the way philosophers have believed This illogic of categories is shown in the fact that people can find Mexico to be similar to the United States than the United States is to Mexico This ought to make no sense at all but of course it makes perfect sense.To quote him directly The main thesis of this book is that we organize our knowledge by means of structures called idealized cognitive models, or ICMs, and that category structures and prototype effects are by products of that organization That is, we have an idealised vision of what a chair is for and for what it does in the world essentially, we put our bums onto one surface and our backs against another Now, lots of things are going to be fine for doing just that with and we will happily call them chairs, but some things are going to fit that category much readily than other things and so they are going to fit better with the idealised cognitive model and therefore fit better with the kinds of metaphors and general ideas that form around that model too Take bachelors It almost seems that the sentence bachelors are unmarried men ought to be simply a boring tautology But in that case both James Bond and Pope Benedict are equally bachelors Both are unmarried men so both would seem to fit equally well with the literal definition but is there any real doubt that one of them is a better fit for the idealized cognitive model of a bachelor than the other What would it mean to say, Pope Benedict is behaving like a bachelor A bachelor is a bit of a boyo and, at least in his pubic persona, Pope Benedict doesn t quite cut the image of a bachelor, even though, be definition he is unmarried In fact, referring to him as a bachelor sounds like the first line in what will end up a very bad and completely tasteless joke.The thing is that we structure our world according to the cognitive models we have of the world that is, they are like the glasses we use to look out at the world and these models help us to structure what we see, but they simply can t be too different from the way the world actually works or we would keep tripping over reality in our models.When we are sick we want to lie down when we are well we get up so up is going to be associated with good things and down with bad things But such ideas as up is good says about how our bodies work than about anything true in the way the world works.But this is the very opposite of Chomsky s view of linguistics this is because for Chomsky there are fundamental structures hardwired into the brain that allow us to understand language and therefore to understand categories These hardwired structures imply there is a formal set of algorithms in the workings of the brain that match up with physical structures in the way the world is organised As such, they allow our language to link with the world in a way that allows us to make sense of the world For Lakoff this is not the case Chomsky s objectivist view is wrong and needs to be replaced with a view that holds that our cognitive models are in a kind of balance between how our bodies behave in the world and the cognitive models we build up to help explain that world As he says, our conceptions depend on our bodies and our culture, they are by no means value free I m determined to be the only review that doesn t explain the title but I do have to say this is one of the truly great titles of a book on linguistics How could you not want to read a book with a title like that

  2. says:

    This book certainly shows you why linguistics is so damn hard there is an almost infinite number of ways in which concepts can turn out to be related The title refers to Dyirbal, an native Australian language, where women, fire and dangerous things all end up in the same category, Balan I just looked this up, to check that I remembered correctly why the Hairy Mary Grub is also Balan You see, it gives you a painful rash that feels like sunburn, and sunburn is of course related to the sun, and that s like fire

  3. says:

    A car is usually a self powered four wheel vehicle 3 5 meters long that encloses a driver and one to four passengers This definition is not exhaustive there has been a three wheel car, an eight wheel car a racecar seats no passengers early horseless carriages did not enclose the driver and the passengers Yet the definition describes the prototypical car in the minds of most speakers of English When asked to draw a car, they would draw something like the prototypical car and not a three wheeler or an eight wheeler when asked, whether a given vehicle is a car or a motorcycle, or a car or a van, they would compare the differences between the vehicle and the prototypical car, the prototypical motorcycle, and the prototypical van Originally the word meant carriage when the automobile was invented, the meaning was extended to it earlier, when the first railroads were built, the meaning was extended to any vehicle moving on rails, whether self propelled or pulled by a locomotive thus we have dining cars, sleeping cars and freight cars An amusement park attraction called the bumper car is a vehicle driven by the visitor that bumps into other such vehicles it is not self powered A toy that looks like a car and has turning wheels is called a toy car Thus cars are a typical conceptual category of objects instead of having clear boundaries, with any object inside the boundary as good a representative as any other, there are several prototypical objects, which are linked by analogy and metaphor, and membership in the category is defined by the similarity with a prototype There must of course be legal definitions of cars in different jurisdictions for the purposes of taxation and licensing, but how did the legislators get the idea of a car Lakoff argues that categorization is a hugely important part of thinking, and most categories are like that.An Australian Aboriginal language groups nouns into four classes, similar to the three genders of Indo European languages and the noun classifiers of Chinese The second class contains women, the Sun, which is connected to women in the tribal mythology, fire, which burns like the Sun, and a poisonous larva, whose poison stings like fire The metaphorical daisy chain is what transformed the word Gothic from relating to an East Germanic people of the Dark Ages to relating to medieval architecture to relating to Romantic scary tales set in a castle built in this architecture to relating to a subgenre of rock music that evokes the mood of such tales to relating to a youth subculture that listens to such music As the tribe was assimilating into the larger Australian society and its members switching to English and forgetting their mythology and natural history, the second noun class in their speech has been losing members to the fourth class, which contains everything else , like class 12 of animals in Borges s fictional Chinese encyclopedia I am still wondering how Chinese ended up with a classifier for lessons, subjects and large guns, and another for people, pigs, and kitchenware.

  4. says:

    It s not about women or anything feminism related Rather, it s AMAZING book about cognition and categories of thought.

  5. says:

    Essential reading for librarians cognitive categorization theory How real people as opposed to librarians classify stuff Hint we re not even close.Essay review for LS classification course

  6. says:

    Mi t tulo favorito en un libro de ling stica P

  7. says:

    I can t in good conscience rate this book Strictly speaking, I neither read nor understood it in its entirety But I m definitely not an objectivist Lakoff and I are experiential realists.We keep it real Experientially The theory of cognitive models, as we will be describing it, is concerned with conceptual structure But structure alone does not make for meaningfulness Experientialism claims that conceptual structure is meaningful because it is embodied, that is, it arises from, and is tied to, our preconceptual bodily experiences In short, conceptual structures exist and are understood Conceptual structure takes its form in part from the nature of preconceptual structures T he belief that there is a God s eye point of view and that one has access to it that is, being a hard and fast objectivist virtually precludes objectivity, since it involves commitment to the belief that there are no alternative ways of conceptualizing that are worth considering Represent.

  8. says:

    Great book It s not an easy read, but it was well worth it for me.How do we think From whence do our concepts come and how our they structured Is language a separate, independent module in the brain or is it tied into our other concepts and vice versa How does syntax relate to semantics How does semantics relate to truth How does the body relate to the mind How well does the traditional view of logic and truth match up with our lived experience Lakoff explores all of these questions in a densely argued critique of traditional philosophical approaches to syntax, semantics, and truth and then presents a new approach in a review of relatively recent research into cognitive linguistics The review includes three case studies of different aspects of English grammar and semantics.The result was an eye opening experience for me There s some really interesting work going on here these days, must read

  9. says:

    At one point during The Rime of the Ancient Mariner after the crossbow after the pale woman after the death of the crew the Mariner shifts from being repulsed by the ocean s strange creatures to being entranced by them, even though he is still under a curse that can trace some semblance of causality back to an oceanic animal In spite of, or possibly because of, said curse, he can finally see the beauty inherent in the world and bestows blessings on all of creation With that selfless, pointless gesture, the albatross the in narrative tangible curse proxy and eventual bersymbol for personal baggage and regret slides free.So it s a story of acceptance of the world and in all things great and small That s nice But why give the moment to the water snakes You have the Mariner looking over the side of the ship already, looking down into the ocean His reflection, replete with Albatross accoutrement, could reasonably be visible to him Why wasn t it the Albatross that the Mariner blessed unaware Are we to suppose that the magic wonder of ultimate peaceful blessings that the Mariner is radiating extends to the Albatross too No No, specifically he calls out happy living things during his vatic revelation And that Albatross is as dead as his old crewmates That he killed Via his curse Shooting the albatross created the Mariner he d just be some guy on a boat, never the person that wanders the world spreading the tale so that renders you, the reader, a sadder and a wiser man So shouldn t he learn to love the albatross, not the gaudy water snakes Albatross as is, too not the sleek and flying good sailing omen from the sky, but the dead, weighty metaphor hanging around his neck And from my neck so freeThe Albatross fell off, and sankLike lead into the sea Now, I m not calling Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things What Categories Reveal about the Mind an Albatross, though after nearly six weeks of dragging this hefty tome all over the city I can certainly relate to the physical burden of traipsing across the sea with an unwieldy bird corpse stuck to you No, I m calling it my apple juice seat And much like the intriguing mystery that is the title of this book, I assure you that apple juice seat will make sense by the end of this review.For now, let us return to the sea and the impropriety with which the dead Albatross was treated What bothers me about Rime is that the Mariner never really thinks about the Albatross again It s been part of his life for, let s say, oh don t know, let s pick six weeks as an arbitrary amount of time that is not representative of anything in particular And this albatross is always just there, you know He s lugging it all over creation And sure, it feels like a burden while you re carrying it, but you sort of get used to the weight You become That guy that s always wearing that Albatross What do you think his deal is, did he lose some sort of bet And even if you complain about it all the time, because it kind of sucks and there are hundreds if not thousands of other birds you could be sporting why even limit yourself to birds, right Maybe take a month and wear not a single bird at all, but focus your style on wearable marmots but once it s gone, you sort of miss it I mean, it s over, really over That damn thing has sunk like lead into the sea Even though you were pretty unhappy while actually, because it wasn t really fun still, the Albatross taught you some things About yourself About what categories reveal about the mind.Okay, you caught me I am blatantly comparing Women, Fire to the Albatross With zero subtlety But never so has a spring of love gushed from my heart than the moment I closed this for the final time If you re not up on your Coleridge, yes, that s the line that directly precedes the release of the Albatross pendant and, with it, assumedly the curse And now that I m free from the weight of this book, I don t know how to even begin reviewing it I ve carried it nearly everywhere for six weeks My morning and evening commutes depending on subway crowds offered the chance for about eight to ten pages Fewer still if I was deep into an objectivism vs experientialism section, because those pages required perfect attention or, failing that, brute repetition, to absorb even one iota of information And objectivist versus experientialist was about a third of the book It felt like my pet that could never be left home by itself Or my mascot for the month of January And late December And the first half of February See Six weeks Perhaps it is unfair to lay this at the feet of Women, Fire, but I was able to renew it nine times from the library Nine It almost wanted to try for the tenth before I returned it, but I don t want that on my library record it feels too self indulgent What I m saying is that, anecdotally, people aren t exactly beating down the doors to get their hands on a copy.I m of the mind it might be good if people did try to read it, though it might damage the publishing industry if their sales drop to zero while the entire world struggles through six weeks or of taxonomic synapomorphies I definitely picked up some accessible pieces of information The MORE IS UP metaphorical model constitutes conceptual scaffolding for, say, discussions about economics price rises, depressions, downturns, etc It is not believed No one thinks MORE really is UP it is just used in understanding But there are people who really believe that TIME IS A RESOURCE, and who live by it they budget their time, try not to waste their time, etc As we saw above, there is a movement to conventionally extend the RESOURCE or MONEY metaphor for TIME, so that the concept of STOLEN TIME will become believed and lived by and not merely pondered, as it is now Metaphorical concepts can also be lived by without being believed For example, no one believes that SEEING really is a form of TOUCHING, in which there is a limblike gaze that goes out from the eyes and seeing occurs when the gaze touches something There used to be a scientific theory of eye beams that was of this sort and was widely believed, but not any Yet we still use such a metaphor to comprehend vision, and that us is reflected in expressions like I can t take my eyes off of her Her eyes picked out every detail of the pattern Their eyes met. And so on These sections keep you moving forward, just like every non fiction book worth its salt there are some tidbits that you can pull out and say, Hey, yeah I learned that That s a cool fact In the above example, treating time like a resource has become so commonplace, has always been so commonplace for my entire lifespan, that it never even occurred to me that there is nothing inherent within time that makes one treat it the same as money.Our every day folk theory of the world is an objectivist folk theory We create cognitive models of the world, and we have a natural tendency to attribute real existence to the categories in those cognitive models This is especially true of conventional metaphorical models Take, for example, our cognitive model in which time is understood metaphorically as a moneylike resource Thus, time can be saved, lost, spend, budgeted, used profitably, wasted, etc This is not a universal way of conceptualizing time, but it is very pervasive in American culture, so much so that many people lose sight of its metaphorical character and take it as part of an objective characterization of what time really is I really liked these discussions, and there were a number of them spread throughout Women, Fire Treating time like a resource leads people down some really strange post hoc rationalizations, which seem perfectly natural until you actually parse time as metaphor from time as actual experience But you sort of have to function as if time is a resource in a society that takes it as a predicate truth In Search of Lost Time sounds deep and enthralling In Search of Lost Gravity sounds like a direct to home SciFi film You can t, in actuality, save time any than you can save gravity, nor spend some gravity relaxing, or even kill gravity by just doing nothing You can t really do those things to time, either But if everyone acts like we can, does the distinction contain value any Folk theories can be than just misleading they can be dangerous A particularly important fact about the collection of metaphors used to understand lust in our culture is that their source domains overlap considerably with the source domains of metaphors for anger As we saw above, anger in America is understood in terms of HEAT, FIRE, WILD ANIMALS and INSANITY as well as reaction to an external force Just as one can have smoldering sexuality, one can have smoldering anger One can be consumed with desire and consumed with anger This comes from one of the case studies that make up the second half of the book much like how the functional metaphors that rely on eye beams still persist long after the scientific acceptance of the actual eye beam principle has waned, the conceptual metaphors that bridge anger and lust create space to rationalize some particularly heinous acts I am opting out of discussing them in depth here, but if the penciled underlines and asterisks in my copy of Women, Fire were any indication, there is no shame in skipping over the first half of the book and diving directly into the case studies.Even though nearly half the pages are devoted to case studies, this book proper leans heavily on gestalts than direct potable facts If, like me, you bring almost no outside knowledge of cognitive psychology or gestalts, or even the meaning of gestalt , when the curse lifts and that albatross finally drops into the sea you may be left with a lingering sense of new structures with which to view language Take the sense in which I talk of a cricket bat and a cricket ball and a cricket umpire The reason that all are called by the same name is perhaps that each has its part its own special part to play in the activity called cricketing it is no good to say that cricket means simply used in cricket for we cannot explain what we mean by cricket except by explaining the special parts played in cricketing by the bat, ball, etc citation removed Austin here is discussing a holistic structure a gestalt governing our understanding of activities like cricket Such activities are structured by what we call a cognitive model, an overall structure which is than merely a composite of its parts A modifier like cricket in cricket bat, cricket ball, cricket umpire, and so on does not pick out any common property or similarly shared by bats, balls, and umpires It refers to the structured activity as a whole and the nouns that cricket can modify form a category, but not a category based on shared properties Rather it is a category based on the structure of the activity of cricket and on those things that are part of the activity The entities characterized by the cognitive model of cricket are those that are in the category What defines the category is our structured understanding of the activity Unlike cricket, which technically I suppose I only vaguely understand, the category termed objectivist means almost nothing to me Meant Meant almost nothing to me, before this book So when I say a solid third of this book is spent dismantling objectivism, well, it s not fun for the neophyte Have you ever heard someone talking at length about why Sachin Tendulkar, given modern bowls, should be considered as good a batsman as Don Bradman You might end up knowing a bit about both Bradman and Tendulkar if you put your mind to deciphering their discourse, but you probably won t walk away learning any fundamentals of cricket, the sport of choice for the two I just mentioned You generally need at least a little context to even know where to begin in high level discourse, and this book is no exception.Women, Fire isn t a new book I have already confessed to not knowing current perspectives of the objectivist standard, though I did read Bentham in undergrad and still maintain a few bits from Kripke on my physical shelves But even if every fact from this book has been excised from the modern grimoire of literary diegesis and obliterated from the entire field of cognitive theory, the exercise in perspective might be worth the effort The objectivist paradigm also induces what is known as the literal figurative distinction A literal meaning is one that is capable of fitting reality, that is, of being objectively true or false Figurative expressions are defined as those that do not have meanings that can directly fit the world in this way If metaphors and metonymies have any meaning at all, they must have some other, related literal meaning Thus, metaphor and metonymy are not subjects for objectivist semantics at all The only viable alternative is to view them as part of pragmatics the study of a speaker s meaning Moreover, it follows from the objectivist definition of definition itself that metaphor and metonymy cannot be part of definitions They cannot even be part of concepts, since concepts must involve a direct correspondence to entities and categories in the real world or a possible world These are not empirical results They are simply further consequences of the objectivist paradigm This section and it was a very large section indeed was the hurdle that made a six week odyssey for me Honestly, an objectivist understanding of the mind is something I still don t know if I totally understand So being dragged along as an expert dismembers it bit by bit well, it s a bit like inviting yourself to play with the Boston Philharmonic because you ve seen The Music Man a dozen times I am certain, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there were pages upon pages that I simply didn t comprehend It was humbling I pulled something away from all those pages that concepts cannot be merely internal representations of an external reality that linguistic symbols are not inherently meaningless and do not simply correspond with things in the world But ask me in six weeks why the conceptual categories of myths and metaphors prove that the mind is than an isolated symbol translating machine, and I might struggle with the details of focal blue being perceived when the blue yellow neurons show a blue response and when the red green cells are firing at the neutral base rate I ll probably remember that people within the same language culture typically perceive and name focal blue the same way which destroys the collegiate aphorism, Duuude, what if my blue is your green but that languages with different color categories might center the category that covers the cool colors blue, green, black into focal green Even though focal blue elicits the same neurophysiological response, it would be interpreted as green.As wild as bits like that are and I m sure I didn t do the focal blue discussion justice I cannot recommend reading this book to a normal person I just can t The ratio of dross to gem is too high the work required to put in is too demanding Maybe if you re going on a long trip and you can only have one book There are great things to pull from it Read a synopsis Take a course at a local college, where the adjunct s job is to edit down the text into readable sections Trust a professor to create a photocopied packets of the good bits It s probably all digital now, anyway Does it follow that as digital photography has obliterated the cost of snapping dozens of pictures where one once sufficed professors feel free to assign full texts rather than annotated pages since it doesn t require four trees per student Even given the relatively limitless expanse of the internet, I believe Women, Fire would still be edited down Substantially.Look, we all acknowledge the reason the book seems cool is the title Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things It is an appealing puzzle The author gives a shorthand summary, and admits that grouping those three words together will cause people to stop and give the book a shot It s a bit frustrating If you do get into the meat of the discussion, much later on, it turns out to be worth it Sort of like how shoving enough broccoli down a kid s throat will eventually lead to him seeking it out on his own your mileage may vary on this particular example.The secret insight regarding women, fire and dangerous things is that, well, in the aboriginal language of Dyirbal, they re in the same category Then, there is a close dissection of Dyirbal, a language which is probably extinct by the time you re reading this It is fascinating, though you can never quite shake the feeling that the title remains thoroughly misleading I m not in the position to parse Dyirbal here and now, but I feel comfortable saying that the title could just as easily be Money, the Moon, and Animate Things What Categories Reveal about the Mind for exactly the same reasons, minus those of marketing panache.As the end of the book loomed ever closer, I began to fear and distrust the world post Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things I d grown used to the weight of my albatross the daily struggle against four or five pages the fear of its heft smushing the remnants of my lunch as I returned home each night What I d begun to realize in part from the literal weight of the book itself, in part from the figurative density of the material was that the weight, the cultural weight, of albatross as a metaphor sprung from nothing Before Coleridge, before The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, it meant nothing There is nothing inherently ominous, curse worthy, or redemptive about it outside of the context of Rime Coleridge is the Weird Sisters for albatrosses only through his proclamation would they reach what seemed an inevitable fate quintessential regret metaphor Now it s used like it really means something, in and of itself It is something that never did and never will exist in our world But we get it, it makes sense Because of context It has slipped the surly bonds of its own narrative origin and risen in the real world free, reborn free from its own contextual baggage When an appropriate Idealized Cognitive Model is provided by context, a compound can be made up spontaneously Pamela Downing provides the classic example of apple juice seat, an expression actually used by a hostess to an overnight guest coming down to breakfast There were four place settings at the table, three with glasses of orange juice and one with a glass of apple juice She said Please sit in the apple juice seat, and the new compound made perfect sense given what was understood about the setting I doubt completing Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things will send me on a round the world journey sharing my tale and turning any who will listen into wiser and sadder people But if you ll recall, the Mariner never suggests one takes up the mantle of the Albatross themselves rather, listen and learn from the story as he tells it Save yourself from shooting the albatross Learn what you want of this book from someone else s abridgement.

  10. says:

    This book has a lot of interesting information about categories and how they related to human cognition and language However, it is from the early 90s and voraciously advocates the prototype model of categories, which I think, while useful, has limited application to cognition as a whole It did provide a useful insight into some of the history of how categories have been viewed and studied across the decade.I stopped after the first half because I began to find the book tedious, and while it would likely hold the attention of a cognitive scientist much longer, my purpose was to read it strictly for the purposes of language.