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.