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Past Valve Book Events

cover of the book Theory's Empire

Event Archive

cover of the book The Literary Wittgenstein

Event Archive

cover of the book Graphs, Maps, Trees

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cover of the book How Novels Think

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cover of the book The Trouble With Diversity

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cover of the book What's Liberal About the Liberal Arts?

Event Archive

cover of the book The Novel of Purpose

Event Archive

The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Happy Trails to You

What’s an Encyclopedia These Days?

Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Intimate Enemies: What’s Opera, Doc?

Alphonso Lingis talks of various things, cameras and photos among them

Feynmann, John von Neumann, and Mental Models

Support Michael Sporn’s Film about Edgar Allen Poe

Philosophy, Ontics or Toothpaste for the Mind

Nazi Rules for Regulating Funk ‘n Freedom

The Early History of Modern Computing: A Brief Chronology

Computing Encounters Being, an Addendum

On the Origin of Objects (towards a philosophy of computation)

Symposium on Graeber’s Debt

The Nightmare of Digital Film Preservation

Richard Petti on Occupy Wall Street: America HAS a Ruling Class

Bill Benzon on Whatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhat?

Nick J. on The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Bill Benzon on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Norma on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Bill Benzon on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

john balwit on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on That Shakespeare Thing

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

JoseAngel on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on Objects and Graeber's Debt

Bill Benzon on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on Objects and Graeber's Debt

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Monday, October 09, 2006

Fight! Fight! Pinker vs. Lakoff

Posted by Bill Benzon on 10/09/06 at 08:44 AM

Linguist and rhetorical advisor to the Democratic party George Lakoff has recently published another book on political rhetoric (though I don’t believe Lakoff thinks of it as rhetoric, he thinks of it as applied cognitive science) Whose Freedom?: The Battle Over America’s Most Important Idea. Steven Pinker blasted it in The New Republic (available here, scan down the page a bit) and Lakoff has, in turn, reponded to Pinker. The folks over at ScienceBlogs are having a feeding frenzy: Chris at Mixing Memory thinks Pinker’s nailed Lakoff on the science (but doen’t much like either one); Razib at Gene Expression compares Lakovian debate tactics to those of creationists after stimulating a pile of comments a week ago; Mike the Mad Biologist observes: “I have had considerable experience debating conservatives, and I have personally found most of what Lakoff writes to be pretty useless in any practical, working sense.”


>Whose Freedom? shows no sign of the empirical lessons of the past three decades, such as the economic and humanitarian disaster of massively planned economies, or the impending failure of social insurance programs that ignore demographic arithmetic.

Pinker wants the elderly to eat dog food.

By on 10/09/06 at 02:10 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Not that I’ve read any of this, but Fodor’s serial dismantlings of Pinker in the LRB makes me wonder if there’s any there there, when it comes to Pinker.

By Lawrence LaRiviere White on 10/10/06 at 07:29 PM | Permanent link to this comment

It’s just a family feud. In one way or another each of them—Fodor, Lakoff, and PInker—owes a debt to Chomsky.

By Bill Benzon on 10/10/06 at 08:02 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Chomskyan linguistics and transformational grammar are already doomed to the status of curiously odd but unacceptable intellectual relics that may receive future attention by writers on pseudo-scientific topics such as Martin Gardiner. And NC’s outre political writings continue to provoke nothing but disgust.

By on 10/12/06 at 08:08 AM | Permanent link to this comment

Is it Belloc that you’re aiming for? I’m not sure which I admire more: the characterization (even to Francophonizing “Gardner") or the relic-delight that you may believe what you say.

By Jonathan Goodwin on 10/12/06 at 12:26 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Thinking of Helen while writing Martin. At any rate, I’ll look to the likes of Roy Harris, Geoffrey Sampson (sp?), Georges Mounin, George Steiner, Raymond Tallis and Michael Toolin, et alii for instruction in linguistics, thank you very much.



By on 10/13/06 at 11:28 AM | Permanent link to this comment

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