The Human Body: Metaphor and/or Physical Reality

Linguist George Lakoff and philosopher Mark Johnson assert that the physical experiences of our bodies generate the metaphors we use to describe how we think. For example, we grasp an idea. Bodily metaphors also convey what we do or don't value. In times of happiness, we say our spirits are lifted and things are looking up. On the verge of a new experience, we take the plunge. If we agree with this claim about the body metaphor, how might the analysis of body metaphors give us insight into the values of different cultures or subcultures? After all, different religious traditions, historical movements, and modes of thinking read the body as metaphor differently. Our race, gender, sexual orientation, and ability frequently have an impact on the way we experience the world. So, how does the physical body interact with the body metaphor, especially if one's body is marked differently from social norms? Through a variety of readings and both oral and written assignments, we'll explore some of these questions.