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Embodied Mind, Meaning, and Reason

How Our Bodies Give Rise to Understanding

Mark Johnson is one of the great thinkers of our time on how the body shapes the mind. This book brings together a selection of essays from the past two decades that build a powerful argument that any scientifically and philosophically satisfactory view of  mind and thought must ultimately explain how bodily perception and action give rise to cognition, meaning, language, action, and values.
A brief account of Johnson’s own intellectual journey, through which we track some of the most important discoveries in the field over the past forty years, sets the stage. Subsequent chapters set out Johnson’s important role in embodied cognition theory, including his cofounding (with George Lakoff) of conceptual metaphor theory and, later, their theory of bodily structures and processes that underlie all meaning, conceptualization, and reasoning. A detailed account of how meaning arises from our physical engagement with our environments provides the basis for a nondualistic, nonreductive view of mind that he sees as most congruous with the latest cognitive science. A concluding section explores the implications of our embodiment for our understanding of knowledge, reason, and truth. The resulting book will be essential for all philosophers dealing with mind, thought, and language.


"Mark Johnson’s early books, especially Metaphors We Live By and The Body in the Mind, were absolutely critical in the founding of embodied cognitive science. Somehow his work has gotten even better—deeper, more subtle, more historically informed—over the years. The essays collected here are essential reading for anyone interested in philosophical issues related to embodiment.”

Anthony Chemero, University of Cincinnati

"Mark Johnson shows us what pragmatism can do, and especially its relevance to questions about the embodied mind. Building on his own groundbreaking work in the philosophy of language, he provides an insightful answer to the question of meaning: meaning emerges in the interactions of our bodies with our structured environments, and this meaning includes not only everyday pragmatic meaning, but philosophical and scientific reasoning as well."

Shaun Gallagher, University of Memphis

Table of Contents

Introduction: Bringing the Body to Mind

Chapter 1: Cognitive Science and Dewey’s Theory of Mind, Thought, and Language
Chapter 2: Cowboy Bill Rides Herd on the Range of Consciousness
Chapter 3: We Are Live Creatures: Embodiment, American Pragmatism, and the Cognitive Organism
Mark Johnson and Tim Rohrer
Chapter 4: The Meaning of the Body
Chapter 5: The Philosophical Significance of Image Schemas
Chapter 6: Action, Embodied Meaning, and Thought
Chapter 7: Knowing through the Body
Chapter 8: Embodied Realism and Truth Incarnate
Chapter 9: Why the Body Matters


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