George Lakoff

From SourceWatch
Jump to navigation Jump to search

George Lakoff has been a Professor of Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley since 1972.

According to the University of California, Berkeley website, Professor Lakoff's current research includes "many areas of Conceptual Analysis within Cognitive Linguistics: ... The nature of human conceptual systems, especially metaphor systems for concepts such as time, events, causation, emotions, morality, the self, politics, etc." [1]

Lakoff collaborated with Mark L. Johnson on the theory of conceptual metaphor, and is also a pioneer in the theory of moral politics, propaganda and the cognitive science of mathematics.

Other affiliations


  • "In my previous writings I have been concerned with the details of conceptual analysis and their consequences for such fields as cognitive science, philosophy, and linguistics.... Around the time of the conservatives' victory in the 1994 elections, I happened to be working on the details of our moral conceptual system, especially our system of metaphors for morality. During the election campaign, it became clear to me that liberals and conservatives have very different moral systems, and that much of the political discourse of conservatives and liberals derives from their moral systems. I found that, using analytic techniques from cognitive linguistics, I could describe the moral systems of both conservatives and liberals in considerable detail, and could list the metaphors for morality that conservatives and liberals seemed to prefer. What was particularly interesting was that they seemed to use virtually the same metaphors for morality but with different -- almost opposite -- priorities. This seemed to explain why liberals and conservatives could seem to be talking about the same thing and yet reach opposite conclusions -- and why they could seem to be talking past each other with little understanding much of the time." (Moral Politics, pp. 11-12.)
  • "If this [underfunding and self-defeating organization of liberal think tanks] were a rational issue, just pointing out the problem and its horrendous consequences would be enough to get liberal-oriented foundations to change their way of doing business. But it is not a rational issue -- it is a matter or moral politics....
"Because conservatism's highest moral priority is to promote the moral system itself, conservatives find it natural to support ideas, infrastructure, and career development. Because its other highest priority is to promote self-discipline, individual responsibility and self-reliance, conservatives find it natural to support American enterprise, competitiveness, the free market system, and so on.
"Because liberalism's highest moral priority is empathetic behavior and promoting fairness, it is natural for liberals to support advocacy for the downtrodden and oppressed. Because its other highest moral priority is to help people who can't help themselves, it is natural for liberal funders to insist that their funding go as close to the needy as possible, to the grassroots, not to infrastructure or career development -- and certainly not to intellectuals! The result is that conservative funders have been promoting conservatism, while liberal funders have not been promoting liberalism.
"Though conservative think tanks get a lot of money, their money does not come from the wealthiest foundations by any means. There are plenty of liberals with enough money to match the conservatives. Wealthy liberals, however, want their money to go as directly as possible to the downtrodden and oppressed, with nothing significant designated for infrastructure, career development, or their intellecuals. From a position external to the liberal moral system this seems irrational and self-defeating. But from inside the moral system it seems natural." (Moral Politics, pp. 417-418.)


  • Mark Johnson and George Lakoff, Metaphors We Live By, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1980.
  • George Lakoff, Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1987.
  • George Lakoff and Mark Turner, More Than Cool Reason, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1989.
  • George Lakoff, Philosophy In The Flesh, New York, Basic Books, 1989.
  • George Lakoff and Rafael E. Nunez, Where Mathematics Comes From: How the Embodied Mind Brings Mathematics into Being, New York, Basic Books, 2000.
  • George Lakoff, Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think, Chicago, University of Chigago Press, 2nd edition, 2002.
  • George Lakoff, Don't Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame The Debate, Chealsea Green, 2004.

SourceWatch resources

External links


  1. Scientific Committee, IDEAS Foundation for Progress, accessed October 18, 2011.
  2. "Fenton Adds 'Deep Thinker'," O'Dwyer's PR Daily (sub req'd), April 16, 2008.
  3. Members, Global Business Network, accessed November 15, 2010.
  4. Journal of Consciousness Studies [1], organizational web page, accessed June 1, 2013.

Articles, interviews and other resources