The Political Mind: Why You Can't Understand 21st-century Politics with an 18th-century Brain

Front Cover
Penguin, 2008 - Political Science - 292 pages
2 Reviews
In What┬'s the Matter with Kansas?, Thomas Frank pointed out that a great number of Americans actually vote against their own interests. In The Political Mind, George Lakoff explains why.

As it turns out, human beings are not the rational creatures we┬'ve so long imagined ourselves to be. Ideas, morals, and values do not exist somewhere outside the body, ready to be examined and put to use. Instead, they exist quite literally inside the brain┬—and they take physical shape there. For example, we form particular kinds of narratives in our minds just like we form specific muscle memories such as typing or dancing, and then we fit new information into those narratives. Getting that information out of one narrative type and into another┬—or building a whole new narrative altogether┬—can be as hard as learning to play the banjo. Changing your mind isn┬'t like changing your body┬—it┬'s the same thing.

But as long as progressive politicians and activists persist in believing that people use an objective system of reasoning to decide on their politics, the Democrats will continue to lose elections. They must wrest control of the terms of the debate from their opponents rather than accepting their frame and trying to argue within it.

This passionate, erudite, and groundbreaking book will appeal to readers of Steven Pinker and Thomas Frank. It is a fascinating read for anyone interested in how the mind works, how society works, and how they work together.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

Review: The Political Mind: Why You Can't Understand 21st-Century American Politics with an 18th-Century Brain

User Review  - Matt - Goodreads

Aside from the definition of metaphor and the useless neuroscientific information, I'm pretty sure I knew everything in this book before I read it. Read full review

Very assessable book

User Review  - Jennifer D P. - Overstock.com

The book is very assessable and insightful. I am enjoying it. Read full review

Contents

Brain Change and Social Change
1
Anna Nicole on the Brain
21
The Political Unconscious
43
The Brains Role in Family Values
75
The Brains Role in Political Ideologies
93
Political Challenges
111
A New Consciousness
117
Traumatic Ideas The War on Terror
125
The Technical Is the Political
191
Exploring the Political Brain
195
The Problem of Selfinterest
201
The Metaphors Defining Rational Action
209
Why Hawks Win
223
The Brains Language
231
Language in the New Enlightenment
243
What If It Works?
267

Framing Reality Privateering
133
Fear of Framing
145
Confronting Stereotypes
159
Cognitive Policy
169
Contested Concepts Everywhere
177
Acknowledgments
273
Notes
275
Index
283
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2008)

George Lakoff is Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Rockridge Institute, a think tank in Berkeley. He is author of Don┬'t Think of an Elephant!, Moral Politics, Whose Freedom?, and coauthor of Thinking Points: A Progressive┬'s Handbook, as well as many books and articles on cognitive science and linguistics.

Bibliographic information