george_lakoff's picture
Fellow at The Rockridge Institute; Author, The Little Blue Book
Will cognitive science change the way we think as much as other sciences have?

Physical science has changed how we think. Those with a basic education no longer think of sun revolving around the earth, or of matter as made up of earth, air, fire, and water. The germ theory of disease is well known, as is DNA.

Cognitive science is newer and it is not yet well-known, even among prominent scientists, and the corner of cognitive science I work in — cognitive linguistics — is even less well-known. Yet its results are just as startling and it has just as much capacity for changing how we think.

As I read through the questions posed by my distinguished colleagues from other disciplines, I realized that the very questions they posed look very different to me as a cognitive linguist than they would to most very well educated Edge readers. It occurred to me that simply commenting on their questions from the perspective of a cognitive linguist would provide some idea of how the world might look different to someone who is acutely aware of the finding of cognitive science, especially cognitive linguistics.

With the greatest of respect for my colleagues who raised the following questions, here is one cognitive scientist's perspective on those questions, given the findings in my discipline.