Cognitive semantics began in the 1970s as a reaction against the objectivist world-view assumed by the Anglo-American tradition in philosophy and the related approach, truth-conditional semantics, developed within formal linguistics. Eve Sweetser, a leading cognitive linguist, describes the truth–conditional approach in the following terms: 'By viewing meaning as the relationship between words and the world, truth-conditional semantics eliminates cognitive organization from the linguistic system' (Sweetser 1990: 4). In contrast to this view, cognitive semantics sees linguistic meaning as a manifestation of conceptual structure: the nature and organisation of mental representation in all its richness and diversity, and this is what makes it a distinctive approach to linguistic meaning. Leonard Talmy, one of the original pioneers of cognitive linguistics in the 1970s, describes cognitive semantics as follows: '[R]esearch on cognitive semantics is research on conceptual content and its organization in language' (Talmy 2000: 4). In this chapter, we will try to give a broad sense of the nature of cognitive semantics as an approach to conceptual structure and linguistic meaning. Cognitive semantics, like the larger enterprise of cognitive linguistics of which it is a part, is not a single unified framework. Those researchers who identify themselves as cognitive semanticists typically have a diverse set of foci and interests. However, there are a number of principles that collectively characterise a cognitive semantics approach. In section 5.1 we will identify these guiding principles as we see them. In section 5.2 we will explore some of the major lines of investigation pursued under the 'banner' of cognitive semantics. As we will see, although cognitive semantics began life as a reaction against formal theories of meaning deriving from twentieth-century analytic philosophy and objectivism, the guiding principles adopted within cognitive semantics open up a range of phenomena for 157direct investigation that transcend the initial point of departure for research in cognitive semantics. In other words, these approaches now go significantly beyond refuting the tradition of truth-conditional semantics. In section 5.3, we will look in more detail at the methodology adopted by cognitive semanticists in investigating these phenomena, and in section 5.4 we will make some explicit comparisons between cognitive approaches and formal approaches to linguistic meaning, setting the scene for some of the more detailed discussions that follow in Part II of the book.