Publication details [#6375]

Johnson, Mark L. and George Lakoff. 2002. Why cognitive linguistics requires embodied realism. Cognitive Linguistics 13 (3) : 245–263. 19 pp.


A full and careful response to everything in Rakova's (2002) paper would require detailed analysis of this sort, revealing her underlying assumptions and pointing out how they necessarily lead to systematic misreadings of our work. It would obviously take far too many pages to give such a thorough response to Rakova's paper, and there is no point in doing so, beyond the attempt we have made here to characterize the source of her misreadings. 'Philosophy in the Flesh' is our most recent extended attempt to analyze philosophical assumptions like these and to assess them in the light of relevant evidence from the cognitive sciences. Rakova's paper is testimony to the correctness of our central claim in 'Philosophy in the Flesh' that there is a profound incompatibility between the results of the empirical study of the embodied mind, metaphorical thought, and other aspects of cognitive semantics on the one hand, and traditional philosophy on the other. If, like Rakova, you read the work of our discipline through philosophical lenses that build in the above biases, then our work will look contradictory - because it will in fact contradict the implicit assumptions you are using in your arguments. If Rakova's claims are based on philosophical assumptions of the sort listed, then it should come as no surprise that she ignores the evidence that fills the pages of our discipline to overflowing. From her perspective, her philosophical assumptions take precedence over all empirical evidence. They are taken as true a priori, and never argued for on an empirical basis. One critical moral to be learned from this is that cognitive linguistics must be grounded in empirical studies of mind, thought, and language. It cannot provide an adequate theory of these important matters merely on the basis of a priori philosophical assumptions about the mind. There can be considerable debate about how to interpret empirical studies, but the debates must cite converging evidence, not armchair philosophical assumptions. (Mark Johnson and George Lakoff)