Friday, 27 January 2017

Values and language

In Linguist George Lakoff Explains How the Democrats Helped Elect Trump Paul Rosenberg interviews George Lakoff. Lakoff explains the differences between conservatives and liberals with two contrasting family models: authoritarian (“strict father”) and authoritative (“nurturant parent”). Lakoff contends that many of the Democrat's attacks on Trump reinforced what his followers liked about him.

This interview seems to follow on from Lakoff's blog post A Minority President: Why the Polls Failed, And What the Majority Can Do.

In the interview Lakoff also makes the point that many conservatives in politics studied business and so received some education in cognitive science via their marketing subjects. So they have some understanding for framing. By contrast, if you're a progressive interested in politics:
... you’ll study political science, law, public policy, economic theory and so on, but you’re not going to wind up studying marketing, most likely, and you’re not going to study either cognitive science or neuroscience.
People studying these courses will learn Descartes' "Enlightenment reason":
And here’s what that reasoning says: What makes us human beings is that we are rational animals and rationality is defined in terms of logic. Recall that Descartes was a mathematician and logician. He argued that reasoning is like seeing a logical proof. Secondly, he argued that our ideas can fit the world because, as he said, “God would not lie to us.” The assumption is that ideas directly fit the world.

They’re also, Descartes argued, disembodied. He said that if ideas were embodied, were part of the body, then physical laws would apply to them, and we would not have free will. And in fact, they are embodied, physical laws do apply to them, and we do not have absolute free will. We’re trapped by what the neural systems of our brains  have accumulated. We can only see what our brains allow us to understand, and that’s an important thing.

So what he said, basically, was that there are no frames, no embodiment, no metaphor — none of the things people really use to reason. Moreover if we think logically and we all have the same reasoning, if you just tell people the facts, they should reason to the same correct conclusion. And that just isn’t true. And that keeps not being true, and liberals keep making the same mistake year after year after year. So that’s a very important thing.
 Unfortunately, it appears we aren't very rational after all.

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