The Political Mind: A Cognitive Scientist's Guide to Your Brain and Its Politics

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Overview

A groundbreaking scientific examination of the way our brains understand politics from a New York Times bestselling author

One of the world 's best-known linguists and cognitive scientists, George Lakoff has a knack for making science make sense for general readers. In his new book, Lakoff spells out what cognitive science has discovered about reason, and reveals that human reason is far more interesting than we thought it was. Reason is physical, mostly unconscious, ...

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The Political Mind: A Cognitive Scientist's Guide to Your Brain and Its Politics

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Overview

A groundbreaking scientific examination of the way our brains understand politics from a New York Times bestselling author

One of the world 's best-known linguists and cognitive scientists, George Lakoff has a knack for making science make sense for general readers. In his new book, Lakoff spells out what cognitive science has discovered about reason, and reveals that human reason is far more interesting than we thought it was. Reason is physical, mostly unconscious, metaphorical, emotion-laden, and tied to empathy-and there are biological explanations behind our moral and political thought processes. His call for a New Enlightenment is a bold and striking challenge to the cherished beliefs not only of philosophers, but of pundits, pollsters, and political leaders. The Political Mind is a passionate, erudite, and groundbreaking book that will appeal to anyone interested in how the mind works and how we function socially and politically.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
" Unyielding, provocative, ambitious . . . filled with fascinating scientific research, is apt to find a receptive audience among citizens who hunger for a new progressive renaissance."
-San Francisco Chronicle
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143115687
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/2/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 431,649
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

George Lakoff is Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley.
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Table of Contents

The Political Mind
Preface

Introduction: Brain Change and Social Change

Part I: How the Brain Shapes the Political Mind

Chapter 1: Anna Nicole on the Brain
Chapter 2: The Political Unconscious
Chapter 3: The Brain's Role in Family Values
Chapter 4: The Brain's Role in Political Ideologies

Part II: Political Challenges for the Twenty-first-Century Mind

Chapter 5: A New Consciousness
Chapter 6: Traumatic Ideas: The War on Terror
Chapter 7: Framing Reality: Privateering
Chapter 8: Fear of Framing
Chapter 9: Confronting Stereotypes: Sons of the Welfare Queen
Chapter 10: Aim Above the Bad Apples
Chapter 11: Cognitive Policy
Chapter 12: Contested Concepts Everywhere

Part III: The Technical Is the Political

Chapter 13: Exploring the Political Brain
Chapter 14: The Problem of Self-interest
Chapter 15: The Metaphors Defining Rational Action
Chapter 16: Why Hawks Win
Chapter 17: The Brain's Language
Chapter 18: Language in the New Enlightenment

Afterword: What If It Works?

Acknowledgments
Notes
Index

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 17, 2010

    Progressive Political Posturing for Anyone!

    It is no shocker that fear mongering has become an all too acceptable part of our American Political system. Yet, as Lakoff explains in A Political Mind, the rousing emotions that scare tactics shoot for and have been so successful for conservatives in recent years can also be applied to progressive arguments, albeit without the element of fear.

    By explaining how our brain perceives arguments, especially those which we process unconsciously, Lakoff demonstrates that our political mind is part of our hard wired neurological system. Thus, in order to help realign American politics with the progressive policies envisioned by our Founding Fathers, it is suggested that more attention needs to be paid to the psychology, not mere rationality, of arguments.

    Most notably, Lakoff tackles the idea of framing and how something as simple as word choice can have a long last effect on the public's brains. While the idea is based on reversing the trend of old Enlightenment arguments within American politics, the notion of positive framing can be employed in almost any realm where one needs to get a point across in the face of adversity. An extremely useful point for those who often find themselves in contentious positions!

    An interesting and inspiring read that will have you questioning the political world unfolding in front of you. If given enough credit, the information in this book can yield not only critical thinking but critical doing as Lakoff outlines the roles that progressives need to start adopting in order to come down off the pedestal of Enlightenment and begin recognizing the reality of 21st century politics.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2009

    Demonstrates how political speech works using research from cognitive and neurological science

    Obviously, Lakoff is a liberal. In this book he shows how conservatives in the US have used political speech, framing, symbols, narratives, metonymies, etc to move political thought to the right. He introduces a concept of new enlightenment wherein liberals rethink their strategy to use the same framing techniques as Cons but in ethical ways that enlighten the public.

    Lakoff shows how certain social narratives (like the hero who saves a victim from evil) work in favor of conservative framing. He shows how liberals might change frames rather than fall into conservative ones.

    Read this if you are interested in politics and want to know why some people believe in (and vote for) conservative ideas, even when those ideas work against them. You'll also learn some ways in which you can argue politics.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 9, 2011

    Excellent book ... a must read for poli-sci ...

    Lakoff pulls together his previous findings and helps the reader construct effective frames for today's politcal issues.

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  • Posted November 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Bias

    For someone who claims to be a scientist, it is singularly regrettable that he resorts to using such a book to display his subjective socialistic disposition. He deserves kutos for unabashedly showing his bias, but he violates a principle of scientific description by not telling what influences affected his mind. The explanation of cognitive research findings is fascinating but made suspect by his predjudicial view which by nature is irrational. It's unfortunate, because I was hoping to find sound bases for understanding why my friends of polor opinions are thinking as they are.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2013

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