The Making of Human Concepts

Paperback | February 7, 2010

EditorDenis Mareschal, Paul Quinn, Stephen Lea

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Human adults appear different from other animals in their ability to form abstract mental representations that go beyond perceptual similarity. In short, they can conceptualize the world. This apparent uniqueness leads to an immediate puzzle: WHEN and HOW does this abstract system come intobeing? To answer this question we need to explore the origins of adult concepts, both developmentally and phylogenetically; When does the developing child acquire the ability to use abstract concepts? Does the transition occur around 2 years, with the onset of symbolic representation and language? Or, is it independent of the emergence of language? When in evolutionary history did an abstract representational system emerge? Is there something unique about the human brain? How would a computational system operating on the basis of perceptual associations develop into a system operating on the basis of abstract relations? Is this ability present in other species, but masked by their inability to verbalise abstractions? Perhaps the very notion of concepts is empty and should be done away with altogether. This book tackles the age-old puzzle of what might be unique about human concepts. Intuitively, we have a sense that our thoughts are somehow different from those of animals and young children such as infants. Yet, if true, this raises the question of where and how this uniqueness arises. What are the factors that have played out during the life course of the individual and over the evolution of humans that have contributed to the emergence of this apparently unique ability? This volume brings together acollection of world specialists who have grappled with these questions from different perspectives to try to resolve the issue. It includes contributions from leading psychologists, neuroscientists, child and infant specialists, and animal cognition specialists. Taken together, this story leads tothe idea that there is no unique ingredient in the emergence of human concepts, but rather a powerful and potentially unique mix of biological abilities and personal and social history that has led to where the human mind now stands.A 'must-read' for students and researchers in the cognitive sciences.

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Human adults appear different from other animals in their ability to form abstract mental representations that go beyond perceptual similarity. In short, they can conceptualize the world. This apparent uniqueness leads to an immediate puzzle: WHEN and HOW does this abstract system come intobeing? To answer this question we need to expl...

Denis Mareschal obtained his first degree from King's College Cambridge in Natural Science with a specialisation in physics and theoretical physics. He then went on to obtain a Masters in psychology from McGill University with a thesis on the computational modelling of cognitive development. Finally, he obtained a DPhil in Psychology ...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:400 pagesPublished:February 7, 2010Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199549222

ISBN - 13:9780199549221

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Table of Contents

Part One1. Denis Mareschal, Paul Quinn: Where do concepts come from?2. Gregory Murphy: What are Concepts and Categories?3. James Close, Ulrike Hahn, and Carl Hodgets: Rule vs. Similarity in Concept Learning4. Brad Love and Marc Tomlinson: Mechanistic Models of Associative and Rule-based Category Learning5. F. Gregory Ashby: The Neurobiology of Categorization6. Sandra Waxman: The Role of Language in Concept Learning7. Norbert Ross and Mike Tidwell: Categories and Concepts in the Context of CulturePart Two8. Olga Lazareva, Edward Wasserman: Category Learning in Birds9. Stephen Lea: Concepts in Non-Primate Mammals10. Michele Fabre-Thorpe: Concepts in Monkeys11. Tetsuro Matsuzawa: Concepts in Chimps12. Barbara Younger: Concepts in Human Infants13. Susan Carey: The Emergence of Human Concepts: the Case of Numbers14. James Hampton: Concepts in Human AdultsPart Three15. Darwin and Development: Why ontogeny does not recapitualte phylogeny for human concepts16. Linda Smith: Multiple integrations make intelligence17. Michael Corballis: The Evolution of concepts: A timely lookPart Four18. The Making of Human Concepts: A Final Look