Wednesday, February 06, 2019


Lakoff gets all the attention about reigniting the long tradition of embodied thought, but Johnson's books hold the real keys.

Below is his blip from the U of Oregon faculty cast of characters.  Sorry the format didn't travel.

Mark Johnson
Knight Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Department of Philosophy, University of Oregon
My co-authored book with George Lakoff entitled Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought (Basic Books, 1999) investigated the changes in our conception of philosophy that come from taking seriously the way meaning, concepts, thought, and language are tied to bodily experience. What I find particularly interesting are the ways in which patterns of our sensory-motor experience play a crucial role in what we can think, how we think, and the nature of our symbolic expression and communication.
In my latest book, The Meaning of the Body: Aesthetics of Human Understanding (Chicago, 2007) I tried to delve even more deeply into aspects of embodied meaning and cognition that have traditionally been ignored or under-valued in mainstream philosophy. I’m thinking here of qualities, feelings, emotions, and temporal processes. This attempt to go further into the ways our bodily engagement with our environment makes thought possible has led me to pay special attention to what have traditionally been called the "aesthetic" dimensions of experience, meaning, and action. I have been led in this book to a Deweyan view that aesthetics concerns every dimension of our experience and understanding that gives form, significance, and value to our lives.
Currently, working from an embodiment perspective, I am returning to my earlier interest in a non-reductivist naturalistic understanding of human values. Part of this project is an attempt to critically assess the recent upsurge of attention to empirically-based naturalistic conceptions of moral deliberation, judgment, and valuing. It seems to me that, in spite of much exciting work in this area, we still do not have a fully adequate and existentially satisfying overall view of what morality is, where it comes from, and how it changes over time.

As far as I know no one is writing about these matters from the point of view of clergy, particularly outside formal institutions.  Yet I see the sacred as spontaneously arising from the natural interactions among self and circumstances according to the experiences of those involved.

Neither do I know of anyone writing about the thought resources of actors who use nonlogical means to explore their own inner resources in the interest of empathetic communication with an audience.

Below is what I'm reading now, very slowly since my bruised and torn shoulder won't let me hold a book comfortably and because I want to take the time to really "get it."

The index is from the U of Chicago Press.

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272 pages | 25 line drawings | © 1987

"There are books—few and far between—which carefully, delightfully, and genuinely turn your head inside out. This is one of them. It ranges over some central issues in Western philosophy and begins the long overdue job of giving us a radically new account of meaning, rationality, and objectivity."—

Introduction: The Context and Nature of This Study
1. The Need for a Richer Account of Meaning and Reason
2. The Emergence of Meaning through Schematic Structure
3. Gestalt Structure as a Constraint on Meaning
4. Metaphorical Projections of Image Schemata
5. How Schemate Constrain Meaning, Understanding, and Rationality
6. Toward a Theory of Imagination
7. On the Nature of Meaning
8. "All This, and Realism Too!"


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