What do categories reveal about the mind? In _Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things_, George Lakoff draws on anthropology, psychology, linguistics, and philosophy (notably Wittgenstein and Putnam) to argue against epistemological and metaphysical essentialism.
The title of the book comes from a term in Dyirbal, an aboriginal language of Australia, that is used variously to designate women, fire, bandicoots, hairy mary grubs, rivers, swamps, spears, shields, and sundry other things (both dangerous and not). The author attempts to give a rational account of this odd collection, first, by abandoning the notion that the members of an empirical category must all have some property in common, and second, by developing in its place a philosophy of "experientialism."
Experientialism resembles a sort of "transcendental materialism." In this interpretation, the categories (in the Kantian sense), rather than being "pure concepts," are grounded in physiology, motor function, and "readiness-to-hand" (to borrow Heidegger). Just as the boundaries of the concept "red" are not rationally derived from an analysis of wavelength, but are functions of sensitivies in retinal cones, so too for abstract reason. Thus the understanding is ultimately "embodied." The schematism that emerges is purportedly a reduction from everyday experience: "container," "part-whole," "link," "center-periphery," "source-path-goal," and the like.
Experientialism also offers appealing approaches to mind-body dualism, truth, knowledge, and objectivity. For instance, rather than an elimination of all subjectivity, it proposes that objectivity is "looking at a situation from" as many points of view as possible, and "being able to distinguish what is directly meaningful...from concept that are indirectly meaningful."
Experientialism is outlined in Chapter 17 of _Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things_. The context for this chapter is captured most succinctly in the Preface and Chapter 2. For an application (and the sheer fun of it), I also recommended skimming Case Study 1, giving an experientialist account of "anger."
Preface through Chapter 2: http://polaris.gseis.ucla.edu/gleazer/296_readings/Lakoff.pdf
Case Study 1: http://georgelakoff.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/anger-from-women-fire-and-dangerous-things-lakoff-1987.pdf
A summary of the schematism: http://www.cleanlanguage.co.uk/articles/articles/245/0/Embodied-Schema-The-basis-of-Embodied-Cognition/Page0.html
Buy the book on amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Women-Fire-Dangerous-Things-ebook/dp/B0067WT3KI/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1350845988&sr=1-2-catcorr