The Political Mind: Why You Can't Understand 21st-Century American Politics with an 18th-Century Brain

The Political Mind: Why You Can't Understand 21st-Century American Politics with an 18th-Century BrainA Groundbreaking Scientific Examination Of The Way Our Brains Understand Politics From A New York Times Bestselling AuthorOne 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 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. I was drawn to this book mostly because I knew of the author s reputation as a cognitive scientist and as someone who was known for spelling out how cognitive science overlaps with, and largely explains, many of the phenomena that we recognize as falling along the left right spectrum of political ideologies And Lakoff certainly does offer some insights into how thinking occurs, and what in particular is unique about the way we think about political issues.Lakoff s main idea, which should be apparent to anyone who watches endless hours of cable hours in rapture as I do, is that whoever controls the narrative frames of a debate controls the issue itself, and therefore always wins How is this the case Lakoff says that our view of rationality is largely, and erroneously, informed by the Enlightenment, which assumed it was conscious, universal, disembodied, logical, unemotional, value neutral, interest based, and literal He shows several reasons why almost none of these are actually true For example, we make decisions, to help others perhaps, that don t actually maximize our own self interest, and that are tied up with value and emotional content He claims that Democrats very often with a grating, whiny tone remain stuck in this view of rationality Because of this, they are still in the habit of trying to lasso the facts, build charts and models, and explain why Republicans are simp
Lakoff, a cognitive scientist, looks at 30 years of scientific research on the human brain, and asks some political questions What he finds is the political divide is not just in geography, religion or even power , it in our heads no pun intended.Our country was born from the age of Enlightenment when reason was king, and emotion was irrelevant Emotions were seen as just cluttering the issue at hand The idea an educated, well informed, rational society will make rational, logical, fact based decisions and be able to adequately self govern Rational being making rational decisions is an underlying foundation of our society, from the judicial system to the nightly news Lakoff shows us that we do not act rationally, and asks why.Science tells us that 98% of our thought is unconscious We are only aware of 2% of our thoughts Lakoff demonstrates that this heavily impacts our society through word choice, metaphors, and the framing of issues. A good example is when the Republicans discussed the Democrats plan of a timeline to exit Iraq Republicans used the term cut and run A person can t hear cut and run without the feeling of cowardness or surrendering Another
I have read Lakoff quite a bit He is an original thinker with some really good ideas from cognitive science especially in the role of metaphor in thinking , neuroscience, politics, media and framing, current events, and political psychology He writes well and you will learn from him He is a little overly messianic about his own ideas in the sense that he sees himself as a po
I read this book because it was chosen by a face to face book club I belong to, and I believed it to be a science read My initial response was great disappointment, because this is very much a book of politics rather than science So you know where I m coming from, I should explain that I am a biomedical engineer working in the field of magnetic resonance imaging Going back to childhood, my favorite subjects were math and art, and I began eschewing social studies in high school At this point, I have a considerable gap regarding current thought in psychology sociology However, this book does briefly touch on MRI and on Artificial Intelligence, both of which I have background in, from one time or another in my career Part 1 is How the Brain Shapes the Political Mind The substance of the book is explained here namely that progressive and conservative political thought in the US is rooted in a pair of interfering fundamental neural frames Diverse progressive political positions are associated with empathy, while diverse conservative political positions are associated with authority It is much complex than that, but I just want to give the gist of it here What little there is of science in
This is a very important book for progressives to read Cognitive sciences are showing how our brains organize concepts results in consequences for politics Most people s brains have developed in ways that can respond to terminology in a way that can activate emotional responses either consistent with conservative attitudes or progressive attitudes The times one version is activated by terminology, the the strength of the structures supporting that view become Therefore, the terminology progressives choose and implement affects whether listeners actually have their conservative or progressive structures activated and strengthened.Lakoff explains how progressives tend to work under the assumption that political discourse is only a matter of facts, figures and unemotional logic But that s not how the brain works Terminology has associations with brain organization built up during our childhood and otherwise as an individual s brain attempts to make sense of personal experiences Brain mechanisms relevant to politics are associated with feelings of right and wrong, fair and unfair, desirable and undesirable Those are linked to emotions and emotion related chemicals Unemotional facts and figures just aren t as effective by themselves as the emotional terminology and approaches used by conserva
So Lakoff, writing in early 2008, seems to think the Democrats have a messaging problem Prescient guy He beats on about liberals failure to weaponize empathy, and to claim that progressivism is American Perhaps it is the Reaganaut decade I was born into and the imitators that followed, but this seems like too simplistic a take Americans seem different not because of some demented pathogen or hideous mutation we carry within us, but because we ve been 1 for so long that, rather than change course and admit defeat as anomie and decay spread, we double down and our most self destructive, short sighted qualities grow concentrated and magnified Lakoff does talk about the powerful sway of risk aversion, but rather than characterize it as something that American
I was first introduced to George Lakoff through his work in 2nd language acquisition His thoughts and work in that area was quite impressive, so when I ran across this book I was eager to look into it.First let me say that this book isn t really academic Yes, it is written by an academic, but it s also meant for general consumption I didn t read the reviews below before reading this book, but in skimming them, I am surprised by how people had to mention how academic it was or how technical it is Honestly, I wish it was technical.Also, I had a hard time starting this book because it sounded too much like a liberal griping about conservatives The way the book eased into framing really annoyed me, because it read too much like loose rhetorical discourse analysis I didn t care about discourse analysis, since I ve read much substantial ones but then surprise Lakoff made a claim about cognition in terms of discourse.Suddenly things were not words any He was talking about not only how we think with regular structures, but how invoking those internal structures through language
Lakoff is a cognitive scientist in Berkeley, an American cognitive linguist and philosopher and, apparently, a Democrat, or a progressive Maybe a liberal He believes Democrats can do better after the presidential loss in 2016 Midterm elections are around the corner, and back in 2016 he wrote a piece on how to understand Trump and How Can Democrats Do Better Have the Democrats followed his adv
audio book First off, I can t recommend this book as an audio book Its densely academic writing style requires way too much brain power to process, especially while driving But if I hadn t been listening to the audio book, I probably wouldn t have finished the book What the book has in academic writing style, it seems to lack in academic proof Perhaps the print copy has citations, but mostly what I heard was a complex narrative based on unproven axioms Here s what I did get out of the book, and it s a reminder of what I learned from a linguistics course in college our thinking is shaped by our language and we don t realize it most of the time Taking to heart Lakoff s points about metaphors and the unconscious connotations they bring into our thought process is a mental diet for me It helped me be aware of the use of underlying metaphors in political sound bites and helped me hear them with detachment It s also helped me take political rhetoric less personally, which is a godsend right now I can t recommend the book because the noise to insight factor was just too high for me So to help out, I ll include the list of 7 biases that we as humans should be aware of in our thinking, according to Lakoff You can look up the background research on your own if you re inspired.1 Optimism bias We don t like to
Lakoff goes on throughout the book about how progressives are stuck in the old style enlightenment view of reason , while conservatives have used a batch of Jedi Mind tricks over the past three decades to replace analytical reasoning decisions with emotions I d say the starting point is that people think the brain is basically like a computer that runs calculations and from those evaluations people make decisions that will best serve them HOWEVER from his studies he says people are nothing like that, and any kind of rational decision has an emotional component Politics has its power because it is really our morals writ large That is why government budgets are moral documents People arrive at political moral views from an emotional starting point and these views are held with the same strength as personal morality Plus the way the brain works means political, personal morality is tied by our own brain circuitry to emotions and narratives we live by.So the worldviews people have are arrived at by accessing parts of the mind that house fundamental emotions that are linked to other conc

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  • Paperback
  • 320 pages
  • The Political Mind: Why You Can't Understand 21st-Century American Politics with an 18th-Century Brain
  • George Lakoff
  • English
  • 08 September 2019
  • 9780143115687