iSoul In the beginning is reality.

Modern metaphors

This continues the posts here and here based on George Lakoff and Mark Johnson’s book Philosophy in the Flesh (Basic Books, 1999).

Modern metaphors begin with René Descartes.

Knowing is seeing:
Visual Domain → Knowledge Domain
Object Seen → Idea
Seeing an Object Clearly → Knowing an Idea
Person Who Sees → Person Who Knows
Light → “Light” of Reason
Visual Focusing → Mental Attention
Visual Acuity → Mental Acuity
Physical Viewpoint → Mental Viewpoint
Visual Obstruction → Impediment to Knowing

The mind can know its own ideas with absolute certainty.
All thought is conscious.
The structure of the mind is directly accessible to itself.
No empirical research is necessary to establish certain knowledge of the mind.
The mind is disembodied. It consists of mental substance, while the body consists of physical substance.
The essence, and only essence, of human beings is the ability to reason.
Imagination is not essential to human nature.
Emotion is not essential to human nature.

Thinking is Mathematical Calculation
Mathematical Calculation → Thinking
Numbers → Ideas
Equations → Propositions
Adding → Putting Ideas Together
Sum → Conclusion

Faculty psychology:

  1. The world consists of an external realm of material objects and an internal, mental realm containing ideas, sensations, feelings, and emotions. The external realm is the objective world; the internal realm is the subjective world.
  2. The internal, mental realm contains a Society of Mind with at least seven members, the faculties: perception, imagination, feeling, will, understanding, memory, and reason.
  3. Each faculty is like a person with a particular personality.
  4. Perception is methodical and mostly reliable.
  5. Imagination is typically a reliable craftsman, who can be unpredictable at times.
  6. Feeling is undisciplined, volatile, and sometimes out of control.
  7. Understanding is always calm, sober, predictable, under control, reliable, and functions as a judge.
  8. Perception receives sense impressions from the outside and passes them to imagination, which combines them into images and passes them on to understanding, who judges how those images are to be assigned to concepts and thus produces propositions (judgments) and passes them on to reason.
  9. Reason has good judgment, is cool, controlled, wise, utterly reliable, and follows procedures explicitly.
  10. Memory is usually methodical and is expected to be reliable, though isn’t always, and functions as a warehouse keeper.
  11. Will is the only person in the society who can move the body to action. Will gets orders from reason and is subject to feeling. Reason and feeling struggle for control of the will.

Like time, events, and causation, the mind can only be comprehended metaphorically. [p.414]

Willard Van Orman Quine wanted to keep the “ontological furniture of the universe” to a minimum. “To be is to be the value of a variable.” The proper logic for philosophy is first-order logic. Logic should be extensional, rather than intentional.

Löwenheim-Skolem theorem: If a class of quantificational schemata is consistent, all its members come out true under some interpretation in the universe of positive integers.

Meaning holism: the arbitrary symbols of a formal language can only be meaningfully interpreted in an ultimately fixed way as a whole all at once, not one or a number at a time.

Consequence 1 – Ontological Relativity: Philosophical ontologies are relativized to the way that reference is fixed for an entire language.

Consequence 2 – There is no analytic-synthetic distinction. No sentences can be true just be virtue of the meanings of the terms in those sentences alone.

Consequence 3 – No part of a scientific theory can be confirmed or disconfirmed; only the theory as a whole can be confirmed or disconfirmed.

Consequence 4 – Translation is indeterminate.

Quinean formalist philosophy leads to an internal contradiction: It presupposes a correspondence theory of truth but, due to meaning holism, it leads to a coherence theory of truth.

Lakoff: The embodiment of meaning, as empirically required by second-generation cognitive science, locates meaning in the body and in the unconscious conceptual system.

Poststructuralist Philosophy makes four claims:

  1. The pairing between signifiers (signs) and signifieds (concepts) is completely arbitrary.
  2. Meaning is located in systems of binary oppositions among free-floating signifiers (différence).
  3. Meaning is historically contingent.
  4. Concepts are relative.

Cognitive science has shown all of these views about the nature of language to be empirically incorrect.

Lakoff: Most of language, however, is neither completely arbitrary nor completely predictable, but rather “motivated” to some degree. [p.464] Irony is possible (contrary to #2). Universals and meanings are widespread across cultures, but there is also significant relativism. [p.467]

Where Frege sought absolute, timeless universals of meaning, the poststructuralists … went to the opposite extreme, assuming that any account of meaning that was not timeless and universal had to be arbitrary and ever subject to change. [p.468]

Cognitive Semantics:

  • Concepts arise from, and are understood through, the body, the brain, and experience in the world. Concepts get their meaning through embodiment, especially via perceptual and motor capacities.
  • Concepts crucially make use of imaginative aspects of mind: frames, metaphor, metonymy, prototypes, radial categories, mental spaces, and conceptual blending. Abstract concepts arise via metaphorical projections from more directly embodied concepts. The metaphor system is not arbitrary, but is grounded in experience.

Syntax is the study of symbolization – the pairing of meaning with linguistic expressions. Each symbolization relation is bipolar: it links a conceptual pole with an expression pole (phonological forms).

Embodied truth: A person takes a sentence as true of a situation if what he or she understands the sentence as expressing accords with what he or she understand the situation to be. [p.510]

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