George Lakoff

George Lakoff is a senior fellow at the Rockridge Institute and the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Whose Freedom> The Battle Over America's Most Important Idea.

Recent Articles

Framing Katrina

Hurricane Katrina exposed far more than rank incompetence and negligence by Bush administration officials. It showed Americans, in full force, the intellectual bankruptcy of modern conservatism. With millions of Americans displaced in the hurricane's aftermath, and thousands needlessly injured or dead, the nation witnessed the pillars of modern conservative ideology -- less government, lower taxes, a strong defense -- crumble. Conservatives have lectured Americans for three decades about the evils of government and the need for a stronger nation. Turns out, the biggest threat to America's future and security is the complete dominance of government by a conservative ideology incapable of understanding and addressing our greatest needs. Whoever succeeds in framing Katrina will have enormous power to shape America's future. Progressives started out with the framing advantage, because empathy, responsibility, and fairness are what progressives are about. Conservatives started out with a...

Framing the Dems

On the day that George W. Bush took office, the words "tax relief" started appearing in White House communiqu├ęs. Think for a minute about the word relief . In order for there to be relief, there has to be a blameless, afflicted person with whom we identify and whose affliction has been imposed by some external cause. Relief is the taking away of the pain or harm, thanks to some reliever. This is an example of what cognitive linguists call a "frame." It is a mental structure that we use in thinking. All words are defined relative to frames. The relief frame is an instance of a more general rescue scenario in which there is a hero (the reliever), a victim (the afflicted), a crime (the affliction), a villain (the cause of affliction) and a rescue (the relief). The hero is inherently good, the villain is evil and the victim after the rescue owes gratitude to the hero. The term tax relief evokes all of this and more. It presupposes a conceptual metaphor: Taxes are an affliction, proponents...