June Selection: George Lakoff books

At our June 2015 meeting we will discuss Neil’s selection. He provides the following information about his pick:
For our June meeting, you can choose one or more of the books by George Lakoff listed below. There is sufficient overlap for us to have a good discussion no matter which of them you choose. Some of you may be familiar with his basic concepts of framing and its application to politics through his earlier edition of Don’t Think of an Elephant and may wish to pick one of the other selections to explore his writings further. Each was written at a different time for a different purpose, thus bringing a somewhat different focus to the content. I’ve tried to highlight some of the differences in an effort to help you choose amongst them.

All are available for the kindle. Not many are available in local libraries. The approximate kindle price is written on the first page of each book.

The All New Don’t Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2014)

If you are new to Lakoff this is probably the best starting point. You will find all the basics with a minimal discussion of neural pathways, synapses and other brain science findings. I especially appreciated the final two chapters, “Frequently Asked Questions” and “How To Respond To
Conservatives”. It’s best to get the background first, however, by reading all the chapters in sequence.

Thinking Points: Communicating Our American Values and Vision (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006)

This might be my favorite of these four. I don’t have a hard copy to show you, I’m sorry to say.

In this one he focuses more fully on values, comparing conservative and progressive definitions of common terms, such as fairness, freedom, equality and responsibility. Its important to recognize the different meanings the two groups have for concepts we all take for granted. He
also has a great chapter at the end entitled *The Art of Arguments”.

The Political Mind: A Cognitive Scientist’s Guide To Your Brain and Its Politics (Penguin Books,2008)

This one, like all of them has all the basics, but with a good deal more discussion about brain science and the importance of understanding how, physically, thinking occurs. New findings in that field tell us it doesn’t happen the way we think it does. As odd as it may seem, he uses Anna Nicole Smith to tell us how brains work. He also introduces us to the New Enlightenment while debunking Descartes and Kant and others who brought us the Old Enlightenment. A longer book, but definitely worth the extra effort.

The Little Blue Book: The Essential Guide to Thinking and Talking Democratic (Free Press, 2012)

Intended as more of a handbook as the title suggests. Chapters 10 through 18 end with a list of specific suggestions for us to say as we talk or write about certain political issues. Very helpful.


About Ron Boothe

I am a Professor Emeritus at Emory University, currently living in Tacoma Washington USA.
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2 Responses to June Selection: George Lakoff books

  1. David Gilmour says:

    The Register-Guard newspaper in Eugene recently had an interesting article focusing on the big-brother-ish media and mind-control or values influence of Facebook on their billions of users. The article was by Nicole Dahmen, a professor at the U of Oregon. Her WordPress blog page contains the same or a similar article about FaceBook’s lack of ethics.

    The topic of modern algorithmic effects on our lives and values has been a concern discussed in our book club from time to time. Going all the way back to our discussion of Sven Birketts’ Gutenberg Elegies.

  2. Pingback: Words in Fin de siècle Vienna | Tacoma Retired Men's Bookclub

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