The after­word, writ­ten more than twen­ty years later, pri­ma­ri­ly cap­tures the suc­cess of their ide­as. The evi­dence is given through mul­ti­ple pro­jec­ts and publi­ca­ti­ons too nume­rous to list here. Lakoff and John­son recom­mend their book »The Phi­lo­so­phy in the Flesh« (1999) to phi­lo­so­phers inte­rested in their expe­ri­ence-based ide­as. The aut­hors also make some minor cor­rec­tions and cla­ri­fi­ca­ti­ons to a few of the ide­as, for examp­le: argu­ment is strugg­le not war. Final­ly it gives a short sum­ma­ry of the key ide­as on meta­phor and meta­pho­ri­cal con­cepts which have been con­fir­med and deve­lo­ped by empi­ri­cal rese­arch. (p. 272–3)

»Meta­phors We Live By« is a very com­plex book, and it needs to be read care­ful­ly to extract its maxi­mum value. If the book has a weak­ness, it is in its orga­ni­sa­ti­on. The­mes are dis­tri­bu­t­ed over various chap­ters, and the chap­ter tit­les do not always ade­qua­te­ly rep­re­sent the con­tents. Main ide­as are some­ti­mes pla­ced in the midd­le of lon­ger chap­ters or repeated in odd pla­ces, making them hard to fol­low. A dif­fe­rent orga­ni­sa­ti­on would have aided under­stan­ding. The mul­ti­ple inten­ti­ons of the book also make it more dif­fi­cult to deci­de what the key points of the work are, and inde­ed whe­ther the final goal is lin­gu­is­tic, cogni­ti­ve or phi­lo­so­phi­cal in natu­re.

Why read this book? It gives the reader clues as to how human thought forms con­cepts based on expe­ri­ence. It unders­cores why some con­cepts and expres­si­ons of the­se are more natu­ral to us than others. It is valu­able to anyo­ne inte­rested in how peop­le think.

Why should desi­gners read this book? From a designer’s per­spec­tive the­se ide­as are par­ti­cu­lar­ly valu­able in deve­lo­ping effec­tive visu­al con­cepts for abs­tract ide­as. For instan­ce, the ide­as that con­cepts are made up of cha­rac­te­ris­tic fea­tures that can be iden­ti­fied, or that peop­le use arche­ty­pi­cal (or pro­to­ty­pi­cal) rep­re­sen­ta­ti­ves to defi­ne a cate­go­ry, or that more abs­tract con­cepts are par­ti­al­ly unders­tood meta­pho­ri­cal­ly help the desi­gner design visu­al messa­ges that the view­er under­stand natu­ral­ly. We can easi­ly take Lakoff and Johnson’s ide­as fur­ther and see meta­phor as a ran­ge of expres­si­ons across media and fun­da­ment­al­ly lin­ked to how we under­stand abs­tract ide­as or new expe­ri­en­ces. For examp­le, in deve­lo­ping a visu­al signa­tu­re (logo) for an orga­ni­za­ti­on the desi­gner needs to very clear­ly iden­ti­fy the defi­ning fea­tures of the orga­ni­za­ti­on and what they rep­re­sent. Meta­phor as the basis for visu­al (or other kinds of) expres­si­on is essen­ti­al to fin­ding an ade­qua­te signa­tu­re that the unin­for­med obser­ver easi­ly (or natu­ral­ly) under­stands. The ide­as of natu­ral kinds of expe­ri­ence are very important for the design of intui­ti­ve com­pu­ter inter­faces. Ano­t­her inte­res­ting idea for desi­gners is found in chap­ter 21. The aut­hors illus­tra­te that new meta­phors or meta­pho­ri­cal con­cepts are not just descrip­ti­ve, but can also be ima­gi­na­ti­ve, insight­ful and crea­ti­ve. The­se new meta­phors deepen our under­stan­ding of abs­tract con­cepts. For examp­le, visu­al and other kinds of meta­phors extend our under­stan­ding. Gra­phic signs come to rep­re­sent regimes (swas­ti­ka), or sports gear (Nike swoosh), and movies can extend our under­stan­ding of love, rela­ti­ons­hips, gro­wing up, even pla­ne cras­hes. Alt­hough writ­ten in 1980, the book is as rele­vant now as it was then. A recent arti­cle in »Design Issu­es«[3] demons­tra­tes not only a cur­rent inte­rest in the under­stan­ding of time meta­phors, but also pos­si­ble app­li­ca­ti­ons. Unra­ve­ling this book is work, but worth the effort becau­se it pro­vi­des a bet­ter under­stan­ding of how peop­le make sen­se of their world.