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

George Wang

Glen Drummond from Quarry recommended this book as the one we should read in understanding where marketing/advertising is going in this day and age -- purchase decisions are not made more at a subconscious level rather than in full consciousness.


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.


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.

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.


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.


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

RK Kuppala

Haven't read the book yet, but the name is tempting enough ;)


Lakoffs is quintessential reading about semiotic-thinking


Some really good ideas. Some parts I just didn't understand and didn't see the point in understanding. It gave me a better understanding of the epistemological differences that I sometimes run into when I'm confused---people often use a more objective philosophy and when I am talking to one of these people it is more confusing.The book did not seem to have a consistent audience in mind.


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.


This is a well-written, fascinating book about the way that our minds categorize the world around us through metaphor, metonymy, and other grammatical tools. I haven't read such a overwhelmingly academic book since college, and I'm sure I wouldn't have slogged through it if not for reading it with a book club (Ethan and Matt). I'm glad I did stick with it, because it is very interesting. It's the kind of book where as you are reading it, you say, "yes, that's right, yes, oh, I never thought of it that way, but it makes sense" etc. My only gripe is that Lakoff is so determined to present an airtight argument that some of the 600 page book feels redundant. I guess that's what you need to do in the world of academia, but it makes it harder for the layperson to enjoy the book. He spends a lot of time passionately refuting arguments and people I've never heard of. However, I don't think this book was intended for consumption by laypeople, so I guess I can't complain. I am glad I stuck with this book, and I'll take away this: the grammar of a culture's language contains a wealth of information that can help to explain how the culture sees the world and reacts to it.


Now truth be told I never finished reading this.. nor do I think I will ever have the patience to. But in reading what I have and keeping it on hand as a reference - I think it's an excellent book on how humans conceive of what we perceive, one of the best I've seen.I only gave it a 3 because it is so very dry to read. But the concepts are first-rate.

Kieran Hamilton

Although prototype theory is no longer current, Women, Fire and Dangerous Things, offers valuable insight into the development of cognitive linguistics. With full explorations of the methodology and experimentation used, it gives a full description of the development of the theories and hypothesis expressed. It is this certainly comprehensive in its treatment of the subject matter. Undergraduate readers are encouraged to rather read a Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics, as they are equally as comprehensive and far more succinct!

Petter Nordal

Lakoff's argument is that thinking relies not only on a physical brain, but also on embodied experiences which become metaphors for concepts. A clear headed analysis with far-reaching implicatiions for educators.

TK Keanini

out limits of knowing in terms of classification

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