Review: Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things

Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things
Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things by George Lakoff

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Great book. It’s not an easy read, but it was well worth it for me.

How do we think? From whence do our concepts come and how our they structured? Is language a separate, independent “module” in the brain or is it tied into our other concepts and vice versa? How does syntax relate to semantics? How does semantics relate to truth? How does the body relate to the mind? How well does the traditional view of logic and truth match up with our lived experience?

Lakoff explores all of these questions in a densely argued critique of traditional philosophical approaches to syntax, semantics, and truth and then presents a new approach in a review of (relatively) recent research into cognitive linguistics. The review includes three case studies of different aspects of English grammar and semantics.

The result was an eye-opening experience for me. There’s some really interesting work going on here these days, must read more!



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Review: The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches
The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m afraid I was somewhat disappointed with Flavia’s latest outing, especially with the direction in which the series seems to be veering. One of the things I loved about the earlier novels was the interplay between the competing explanations of whatever mystery was at hand, many of which were fantastical. But in the end, the resolution was always resolutely practical and was revealed through Flavia’s precocious knowledge of chemistry.

The conclusion to this novel, which seems to set the stage for a plot of much grander scope and Dan Brown-esque complexity (and plausibility), happens with almost no involvement of Flavia at all. In fast, we never really learn how it comes about or why. If this is how things are going to be, I’ll probably end my reading of this series with #6.



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