Review of The Meaning of the Body: Aesthetics of Human Understanding [Book Review]

Mind 118 (471):843-846 (2009)
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In this clearly written and well argued book, Mark Johnson presents a theory of embodied cognition and discusses the implications it has for theories of meaning, language and aesthetics. His pragmatist foundations are on show when he writes that ‘The so-called norms of logical inference are just the patterns of thinking that we have discovered as having served us well in our prior inquiries, relative to certain values, purposes, and types of situations’ (p.109). Johnson’s particular contribution to theories of meaning and language is that he grounds ‘inference’ even at the most abstract level in patterns of sensorimotor experience (p.279). He rejects traditional analytic theories of language on the basis that their central concept of reference is grounded in an erroneous and unfounded distinction between transcendent universals and bodily particulars (p.89-91).
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