A short introduction to conceptual metaphors

In case you've never read anything I've written on philosophy or religion over the last six or seven years, George Lakoff and the field of cognitive linguistics - specifically the concept of conceptual metaphor - has been radically influential in my thinking.
This isn't a conjecture; this is an active field of scientific research bolstered by strong empirical evidence. I think understanding cognitive science is important, because it underscores an essential concept that undermines a great deal of traditional philosophy: you cannot know the structure of your own mind through self-reflection. Just like you can't study the foundation of your house from inside your living room, we have to look at minds empirically to understand their structure. And how do we study the structure of the mind, and of reasoning itself? By studying language! Hence the field "cognitive linguistics."

Why's this important? Take someone like Aristotle. His metaphysics are taken to be literal by many a theist, and are used as cornerstones for many highly regarded (by theologians, anyway) theistic arguments. But we can objectively, scientifically demonstrate that the linguistic structure of Aristotelian metaphysics is fundamentally metaphorical. This severely undermines any apologetic arguments that assume Aristotelian metaphysics to be literally true, or even those that simply couch their premises in the metaphorical language of Aristotelian metaphysics.
I've made a concerted effort over the years to introduce these concepts to theists, and it should be no surprise that the concepts - regardless of the evidence - are met with ferocious denial, resistance, and willful ignorance. Just yesterday someone asserted to me that Lakoff is a "garbage source" and that Philosophy in the Flesh (his seminal book on conceptual metaphors in philosophy, co-authored with philosopher Mark Johnson) promotes "scientism" (it does not).
Anyway, I strongly recommend that if you aren't familiar with cognitive linguistics and conceptual metaphor, you should take a deep dive. It is absolutely fascinating stuff. Here's a short, easy to follow video that covers some of the basic concepts. Enjoy!


Popular posts from this blog

Why Christianity is bullshit, part 1: The Bible is stupid

Why Christianity is bullshit, part 2: The Bible isn't true

There is no such thing as sophisticated theology