The Meaning of the Body: Aesthetics of Human Understanding

University of Chicago Press
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In The Meaning of the Body, Mark Johnson continues his pioneering work on the exciting connections between cognitive science, language, and meaning first begun in the classic Metaphors We Live By. Johnson uses recent research into infant psychology to show how the body generates meaning even before self-consciousness has fully developed. From there he turns to cognitive neuroscience to further explore the bodily origins of meaning, thought, and language and examines the many dimensions of meaning—including images, qualities, emotions, and metaphors—that are all rooted in the body’s physical encounters with the world. Drawing on the psychology of art and pragmatist philosophy, Johnson argues that all of these aspects of meaning-making are fundamentally aesthetic. He concludes that the arts are the culmination of human attempts to find meaning and that studying the aesthetic dimensions of our experience is crucial to unlocking meaning's bodily sources.
Throughout, Johnson puts forth a bold new conception of the mind rooted in the understanding that philosophy will matter to nonphilosophers only if it is built on a visceral connection to the world. “Mark Johnson demonstrates that the aesthetic and emotional aspects of meaning are fundamental—central to conceptual meaning and reason, and that the arts show meaning-making in its fullest realization. If you were raised with the idea that art and emotion were external to ideas and reason, you must read this book. It grounds philosophy in our most visceral experience.”—George Lakoff, author of Moral Politics
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About the author

Mark Johnson is the Knight Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Oregon. He is the author of The Body in the Mind: The Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination, and Reason and Moral Imagination: Implications of Cognitive Science for Ethics and coauthor, with George Lakoff, of Metaphors We Live By and Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought.
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University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Jun 29, 2012
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Philosophy / General
Philosophy / Mind & Body
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On the surface, stoicism and emotion seem like contradictory terms. Yet the Stoic philosophers of ancient Greece and Rome were deeply interested in the emotions, which they understood as complex judgments about what we regard as valuable in our surroundings. Stoicism and Emotion shows that they did not simply advocate an across-the-board suppression of feeling, as stoicism implies in today’s English, but instead conducted a searching examination of these powerful psychological responses, seeking to understand what attitude toward them expresses the deepest respect for human potential.

In this elegant and clearly written work, Margaret Graver gives a compelling new interpretation of the Stoic position. Drawing on a vast range of ancient sources, she argues that the chief demand of Stoic ethics is not that we should suppress or deny our feelings, but that we should perfect the rational mind at the core of every human being. Like all our judgments, the Stoics believed, our affective responses can be either true or false and right or wrong, and we must assume responsibility for them. Without glossing over the difficulties, Graver also shows how the Stoics dealt with those questions that seem to present problems for their theory: the physiological basis of affective responses, the phenomenon of being carried away by one’s emotions, the occurrence of involuntary feelings and the disordered behaviors of mental illness. Ultimately revealing the deeper motivations of Stoic philosophy, Stoicism and Emotion uncovers the sources of its broad appeal in the ancient world and illuminates its surprising relevance to our own.
एक हरवलं गेलेलं बालपण, सरळ स्वभावामुळे झालेला विश्वासघात, तारलं गेलेलं आयुष्य.

मार्क जॉन्सनच्या बापाच्या डाव्या हातावर LOVE हा शब्द गोंदवलेला होता; पण त्यामुळे मुलांना बसणारा मार कधी थांबला नाही. लहान वयातच त्याला वाईट सवयी लागल्या. शाळेत त्याचं बस्तान बसलंच नाही. सहा वषा|चा असताना तो चोर्या करूलागला आणि आठया वर्षी तो दारूपिऊ लागला. अकराया वर्षी त्यानं हेरॉईनची चव चाखली. एक भावनाशील बुद्धिमान मुलगा, पण त्याला योग्य वळण लागलं नाही. हेरॉईन आणि क्रॅकचं सेवन, लंडनच्या रस्त्यावर बेघर राहणं, त्याला ठार मारण्यासाठी टपलेले गुंड अशा परिस्थितीत कुणीही- स्वत: मार्कही आपण जिवंत राहू, अशी आशा करत नहता. एवढं असून यातून बाहेर पडण्याची शक्ती त्याला मिळाली आणि आता तो आपला "झाडांची शल्यचिकित्सा' हा यवसाय जोमात चालवत आहे आणि इतर अशा जंकीजना नोकरीला ठेवून या मादक द्रय सेवनातून बाहेर पडण्यासाठी मदत करत आहे. त्याची ही कथा तशी बरीच धक्कादायक, पण स्फूर्तिदायक आहे. स्वत:ला वाचवण्यासाठी आणि याबरोबर त्याच्यासारख्या इतरांना वाचविण्यासाठी एका माणसानं केलेल्या प्रयत्नांची ही हृदयद्रावक आणि वाचावीशी वाटणारी कथा. 

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