Paul Rabinow
The Neuroscience of Language and Thought

7pm Thursday

May 26th, 2011

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We think with our brains.
How is this possible? 
How can meaningful ideas arise from neurons, even billions of them? 
How can language, with its intricate structure, be a product of a physical brain? If all ideas are physical, what are abstract ideas, like freedom and morality? We are approaching an answer.

Dr. George

Professor of Linguistics

Linguist George Lakoff was born in Bayonne, New Jersey, on 24 May 1941 to Herman and Ida Lakoff.

After earning a Ph.D. in linguistics by Indiana University in 1966, Lakoff taught at Harvard University (1965–1969) and the University of Michigan (1969–1971), and was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford (1971–1972). Since 1972, he has served as Professor of Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley.

More recently, Professor Lakoff helped found and is a Senior Fellow of the Rockridge Institute, a nonprofit research and educational institution dedicated to progressive politics and social reform. He is married to Kathleen Frumkin.



His current research covers many areas of Conceptual Analysis within Cognitive Linguistics: (i) The nature of human conceptual systems, especially metaphor systems for concepts such as time, events, causation, emotions, morality, the self, politics, etc. This also includes the study of such systems in other languages and their manifestations in linguistic form; (ii) The development of Cognitive Social Science, which applies ideas of Cognitive Semantics to the Social Sciences. It includes practical applications of cognitive linguistics to help social advocates reframe social and political issues; (iii) The implications of Cognitive Science for Philosophy, in collaboration with Mark Johnson, Chair of Philosophy at the University of Oregon; (iv) The cognitive structure, especially the metaphorical structure, of mathematics, in collaboration with Rafael Núñez of UC San Diego, Department of Cognitive Science; (v) Neural foundations of conceptual systems and language, in collaboration with Jerome Feldman, of the International Computer Science Institute, seeking to develop biologically-motivated structured connectionist systems to model both the learning of conceptual systems and their neural representations. This includes the development of a neural theory of grammar — embodied construction grammar — which precisely characterizes grammars in a notation suitable for both reduction to structured connectionist models and use in natural language processing.

Books by
Dr. George Lakoff:

Metaphors We Live By (with Mark Johnson) University of Chicago Press. 1980.

Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things. University of Chicago Press. 1987.

More Than Cool Reason. (with Mark Turner) University of Chicago Press. 1989.

Moral Politics. University of Chicago Press. 1996; send edition 2002.

Philosophy In The Flesh. Basic Books, 1999.

Where Mathematics Comes From: How the Embodied Mind Brings Mathematics into Being. (with Rafael Núñez). Basic Books. 2000.

Don't Think of an Elephant! Chelsea Green. 2004.

Thinking Points (with the Rockridge Institute) 2005. Farrar Strauss Giroux.

Whose Freedom? 2006. Farrar Strauss Giroux.

The Political Mind. 2008. Viking/Penguin