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The Way We Think: Conceptual Blending and The Mind's Hidden Complexities

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  236 ratings  ·  13 reviews
In its first two decades, much of cognitive science focused on such mental functions as memory, learning, symbolic thought, and language acquisition -- the functions in which the human mind most closely resembles a computer. But humans are more than computers, and the cutting-edge research in cognitive science is increasingly focused on the more mysterious, creative aspect ...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published March 18th 2003 by Basic Books (first published April 2002)
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Bernard Kripkee
Dec 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: brains
This is a lovely book that investigates language and thought from a philosophical and literary stance. It convincingly demonstrates some fascinating phenomena, but it has serious lacunae and begs many difficult questions. I liked it more for the questions it raises than for the answers it gives. What it emphatically does not do is marshal the machinery of modern brain science, including anatomy and physiology, toward an understanding of mind. As a linguist trained in Chomsky's approach to syntax ...more
Jan 28, 2009 rated it did not like it
I was hugely disappointed by this book. One of the authors is Mark Turner, who had written an earlier seminal book on how the mind works, The Literary Mind. The current book promised to revolutionize the way we look at our minds, our thinking, and our behavior. And yet this lengthy tome has only one insight: that we think with metaphors. The authors call it 'blending' but it's essentially metaphor. The idea is that we're remarkable because we can think or say something like, "I've got nothing" w ...more
Jimmy Ele
Apr 30, 2016 rated it liked it
There is a lot of repetition in this book, and this detracted 2 stars from a 5 star rating. The book deals with the idea of "conceptual blending". The author delves into it using diagrams and drawings as well as many words. Was it an interesting book? Yes. Do I recommend it? No, unless you are really interested in how the mind works. There were good things I took away from it, however I have a feeling that there are better books on the subject. ...more
Sean Mcgreevey
Jul 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Dense and challenging to read, this book is fascinating.
Bart Jr.
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Way We Think: Conceptual Blending and the Mind’s Hidden Complexities offers a very exciting and intuitive premise. The way we humans think is due to an underlying capacity to blend concepts together, concepts that often seem disparate and unrelated on the surface. This “blending ability” underlies our capacity for language and many other mental operations. It is the basis of human thought.
And we do it all the time, unceasingly, and in large measure, unconsciously. And at different levels of
Joel Daniel Harris
This will be updated with a brief review upon completion. Below my quick reflection, you'll find my detailed notes/comments. Enjoy as much as you'd like.

-innovation/invention is what sets humans apart (p v)
-work has been done studying detail areas of creativity, but little done on the entire entity (p v)
Ch. 1: The Age of Form and the Age of Imagination
-"Form does not present meaning but instead picks out regularities that run throughout meanings." (p 5)
-Three key terms: Identity, In
Taylor Ellwood
Mar 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
It's an interesting book that will challenge your thinking about you think and relate to different concepts in the world. At times, I think the authors stretch their theory, but overall I found this to be a solid book with good examples being used to illustrate what they meant by conceptual blending. I found the focus on language and metaphor to be particularly fascinating. With that said, this is a book best read slow and considered carefully. The concepts are complex and will challenge your th ...more
Michael Weaver
Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
I was a little disappointed with this book, the title should have been Cognitive Behavior for Idiots. His theory of the origin of languages was different but definitely needed to support the opening supposition more. Though I can respect the notion of Conceptual Integration I though a lot of what was said mirrored Lakoff's, Minsky's, and Carbonell's work in a forced class 101 sort of way. If you are new to Cognitive blending or just want to get the basic principles, it is a OK place to start. ...more
Dec 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
For anyone who wants to understand where all those thoughts come from, or are they words? Technical linguistics riffing outside of the normal science (Kuhn) but inside the brain...least that's the implication if you squint the right way. ...more
Jul 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: nuero-to-read
Lots of information. It honestly wasn't the most entertaining book I've ever read but it was interesting. I much prefer Steven Pinker's style. ...more
Mar 19, 2008 rated it liked it
"The way we think is not the way we think we think." Fascinating but dense; I returned this book to the library after getting about halfway through it. ...more
Alison Lilly
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Like the proverbial curly-haired girl, when this book is good, it is very very good — but when it's bad, it's awful.

As an exploration of human language and the primary role of conceptual blending in everything from grammatical construction to literary metaphor, this text is foundational reading. Turner elaborates on ideas presented in his earlier books (such as The Literary Mind and More Than Cool Reason) and in collaboration with Fauconnier digs deeper into the constitutive and governing princi
Wordy and repetitive, I don't like the Question-Answer format the authors chose to write this in. (Is it supposed to be a teacher-student blend? Anyway it's a poor rhetoric.) There is also a lack of examples -- graphics especially are sparse. So it reads neither like a clear-structured textbook nor a well-written monograph.
And it's a shame, really, because it could be so much more, but I'm struggling to make it through the book.

I suggest two papers as an introduction to conceptual blending inste
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“Our major claims in this book are radical but true: Nearly all important thinking takes place outside of consciousness and is not available on introspection; the mental feats we think of as the most impressive are trivial compared to everyday capacities; the imagination is always at work in ways that consciousness does not apprehend; consciousness can glimpse only a few vestiges of what the mind is doing; the scientist, the engineer, the mathematician, and the economist, impressive as their knowledge and techniques may be, are also unaware of how they are thinking and, even though they are experts, will not find out just by asking themselves.” 2 likes
“Among the world's full adult languages, there are no simple languages, or languages simpler than others. Even rudimentary pidgin codes that serve as linguae francae turn almost immediately into creole languages of great complexity if there are any children around learning those codes as native languages. We also see that many species have vocal skills but no language, and we see that human language can come in different modalities-spoken or signed-with equal levels of grammatical comlexity. Moreover, there are very many separate human languages, not just one, and they accomplish their tasks in ways that often seem surprisingly different. Human languages change over cultural time but do not as a result acquire increased complexity. Indeed, it seems that, at any given time, languages present the same kind of diversity and have the same degree of complexity.” 1 likes
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