MWP Video 2b: Embodied meaning and scepticism

How a new way of understanding meaning can revolutionise our thinking. The embodied meaning thesis of George Lakoff and Mark Johnson shows that meaning depends on individual embodied experience. Those who believe that meaning depends on belief have got things the wrong way round – which is what makes it clear that absolute beliefs are deluded. Embodied meaning thus supports scepticism. This is part of the set of Middle Way Philosophy introductory videos, and is tributary to video 2 on scepticism.

This is the 12th video in the Middle Way Philosophy introductory course.

Some suggested reflection questions:

1. Take some everyday  words or phrases at random and reflect on their embodied meaning. What kinds of metaphorical comparisons might contribute to their meaning being linked other meanings? What kinds of basic categories or schemas might they rely on?

2. In contrast, reflect on any example of an absolute claim: for example, a claim about God or about an ultimate state in nature. You may be able to go through a similar process of reflecting on metaphors, schemas and basic categories to understand the embodied meanings of the individual words or phrases that compose that claim, but its claimed meaning as a whole will not consist only of relationships between these embodied parts. See if you can identify, through reflection, the absoluteness that distinguishes an absolute claim.

Suggested further reading:

Middle Way Philosophy 3: The Integration of Meaningespecially sections 1-3

Lakoff, George & Johnson, Mark (1980) Metaphors We Live By: University of Chicago Press, Chicago

Johnson, Mark (2007) The Meaning of the Body: Aesthetics of Human Understanding:  University of Chicago Press, Chicago

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