Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things

ISBN: 0226468046
ISBN 13: 9780226468044
By: George Lakoff

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About this book

"Its publication should be a major event for cognitive linguistics and should pose a major challenge for cognitive science. In addition, it should have repercussions in a variety of disciplines, ranging from anthropology and psychology to epistemology and the philosophy of science. . . . Lakoff asks: What do categories of language and thought reveal about the human mind? Offering both general theory and minute details, Lakoff shows that categories reveal a great deal."—David E. Leary, American Scientist

Reader's Thoughts


This book has a lot of interesting information about categories and how they related to human cognition and language. However, it is from the early 90s and voraciously advocates the prototype model of categories, which I think, while useful, has limited application to cognition as a whole. It did provide a useful insight into some of the history of how categories have been viewed and studied across the decade.I stopped after the first half because I began to find the book tedious, and while it would likely hold the attention of a cognitive scientist much longer, my purpose was to read it strictly for the purposes of language.


It's not about women or anything feminism related. Rather, it's AMAZING book about cognition and categories of thought.

Evan Donovan

The case studies are a bit overwhelming, but the earlier part, in which Lakoff develops the implications of his "embodied mind" thesis for linguistic/cognitive categories is fascinating. His review of the literature appears comprehensive and his synthesis is compelling. Though I don't agree with Lakoff's politics generally, I view him as a co-belligerent in the fight against positivism.


There are a few pages in here that are really relevant to IA and really interesting. I struggled to understand much of the rest of it.


Tomando como ponto de partida o conceito de categorização em vários povos, Lakoff mostra como modificar o conceito de categorização em si é o mesmo que mudar nosso entendimento do mundo. Grande livro que apresenta uma crítica ao mesmo tempo respeitosa e contundente ao Objetivismo.


This book is not only a fantastic book on linguistics and methods of word categorization, it is also incredibly insightful as to the nature of culture, and how truly different cultural perceptions of the world can be.

Michael Granquist

This book is a landmark in cognitive science. Lakoff's exploration of mind in terms of categories on the fundamentally human level led me down a verdant path of discovery that still colors my budding thoughts.


I found this book to be amazing. Thick, solid, heavy reading. It isn't something you would choose to read on the beach, or snuggled up in a blanket before a fire. (Probably not at any rate). It is, however, a book that explores categorization, prototype theory and cognition using linguistics as the vehicle.It is more than 20 years old so there is doubtless more recent and current information about cognition. However, if you aren't up on it, this is certainly not a bad place to start.The final 3 chapters are case studies showing in detail certain aspects. Be warned (Lakoff warns you himself) that the last one is long. It is actually about 1/5th of the entire book. It is fascinating if you take the time to go through it. But it can be long and if you aren't interested in the method, it may not suit you.Worth a read if you are into the material here. Not for someone who just wants something to read. If you are interested in a linguistic topic but don't want something quite so heavy Lakoff and Johnson's _Metaphors We Live By_ might be a better choice.http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34...


The book is kind of old, and the whole premise of "classical categories" not really being a good way of philosophizing/thinking is kind of obvious (though I feel like he sort of misrepresented it), and the rest of it was... ok. I think I'll probably go back and read the first half of the book on types of categories again in the future; I imagine it could be useful to educators or people designing UIs.


Delightful. Linguistics theory and application. Perspective on how the words we use affect meaning and meaning affects the words we use, across cultures on many levels.

Kate O'Neill

This book has been an essential piece of my thinking around how we approach the world and frame the concepts we encounter. My work in indexation and taxonomy creation has been heavily influenced by it, and, although it was written well before the digital information onslaught, it continues to provide a relevant framework in dealing with online content and information architecture. A must-read if you want to excel in content strategy.


Read by ACRL Member of the Week Julia Bauder. Learn more about Julia on the ACRL Insider blog.

Roy Kenagy

Essential reading for librarians - cognitive categorization theory. How real people (as opposed to librarians) classify stuff. Hint: we're not even close.Essay review for LS classification course: http://bitly.com/x00tw5


Lakoffs is quintessential reading about semiotic-thinking

Michael Mena

Part II of this book could have been a different book all together. Still, a fascinating introduction to cognitive linguistics!

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