I most certainly agree that a theory of what a concept *is* is essential. Doubtless this cannot be worked out independently of a theory of how concepts are acquired, but I certainly think "what a concept is" is indispensable.
“In general I try to use the word concepts to talk about mental representations of classes of things, and categories to talk about the classes themselves.” /The Big Book of Concepts/, by Gregory L. Murphy, the MIT press, 2002, p. 5.
Medin says:“we use concept to refer to a mental representation and category to refer to the set of entities or examples picked out by the concept. It is generally accepted that instances of a concept are organized into categories. Almost all theories about the structure of categories assume that, roughly speaking, similar things tend to belong to the same category and dissimilar things tend to be in different categories. For example, robins and sparrows both belong to the category bird and are more similar to each other than they are to squirrels or pumpkins. Similarity is a pretty vague term, but most commonly it is defined in terms of shared properties or attributes. Although alternative theories assume concepts are structured in terms of shared properties, theories differ greatly in their organizational principles. The classical view assumes that concepts have defining features that act like criteria or rules for determining category membership.” Culture, Categorization and Reasoning, by Douglas l. Medin, Sara J. Unsworth, and Lawrence Hirschfeld, in In S. Kitayama & D. Cohen, Eds. Handbook of cultural Psychology, The Guildford Press 2007, p. 8.
So it is clear enough, isn't it? A concept is a thing inside the head which the homunculus looks at and is identical to the category of material things outside the head. Murphy actually goes on to say that he will not bother differentiating between concept and category, since they are identical to one another except one being a thought form and the other a material entity.
So if you think that a concept is a mental object, this puts a severe limit on the kind of psychology you can do.
I am interested in following up your lead about the behaviourist theory, Jorge. I never would have thought the day would come when I would be more interested in the work of a behaviourist than a psychologist, but if psychology has regressed to John Locke, then I guess that day has come.
Andy Jorge Fernando Larreamendy Joerns wrote:
Andy, Theories about psychological processes are not to be theories about teaching! That would amount to deriving good instruction directly from studies about expertise. In any case, I'd love to hear arguments for each of the models or theories. Just a reaction.sCheers,JorgeImagine a teacher putting up on the board a range of symbol clusters and teaching the kids to recognise which one is a differential, and as soon as they have learnt to pick out dx from ZZZZ or something, he thinks: "Great! These kids now have the concept of differential."Jorge Fernando Larreamendy Joerns wrote:Hi, all I may be missing something in the discussion, but having a patterned behavior, such as chicken-sexing, is what behaviorist in their tradition call precisely a concept (It's exactly what is happening these days with the octopus poll and the world football cup!!! [I can elaborate on that]) . No words necessary, no reflection. It also what is understood as a concept in most of the cognitive science tradition, beginning with Bruner et al. in 1957 (A study of thinking). Is it cultural? Of course. Is it linguistic? At times and in grades, depending on the centrality, I'd say, of the pattern within cultural practices. By the way, cognitive science does not think of concepts in terms of necessary and sufficient sets of attributes (binary or otherwise) (something that was actually taken from structuralist linguistics). Matters have evolved in much more sophisticated accounts (i.e., the exemplar view, the theory-theory), all of them challenged to account for prototypicality effect
and issues such as cognitive overshadowing (what happens when one describes an experience which is basically non-verbal and such a description impairs future recognition of the stimulus), a phenomenon whose understanding owes a lot to Jonathan Schooler (for years at the LRDC and now, I believe, at Santa Barbara). I firmly believe that this is one of those domains where a more fluid conversation between straight cognitive science and CHAT would be clearly a plus.Jorge Jorge Larreamendy-Joerns, Ph.D. Profesor Asociado y Director Departamento de Psicología Universidad de los Andes On Jul 9, 2010, at 7:04 PM, Martin Packer wrote:Michael, This is the famous and familiar 'chicken-sexing' phenomenon. Experts are able to tell the sex of day-old chickens, and can't explain why. The best chicken sexers come from Japan, where the Zen-Nippon Chick Sexing School has 2-year long courses.But I don't follow your argument. You seem to be saying, since they can't explain what they do in words, they have no concepts. But they must have something, so they have percepts. You are apparently equating a concept with a 'cultural label' that is 'stuck' on an object, as though we could only recognize a barrel if it were labelled 'barrel,' if not literally then metaphorically. That seems a rather simplistic view of what concepts do. And actually the chicken sexers do employ cultural labels - as do your fish sorters, I presume. The chicken sexers say to themselves, 'male chick,' 'female chick.' They simply can't introspect the characteristics they have identified which have enabled them to attach the label. Your fish sorters are saying, 'good fish, 'bad fish,' or something similar. Obviously these are cultural-historical distinctions, right?Martin On Jul 9, 2010, at 6:14 PM, Wolff-Michael Roth wrote:See, even without the notion of "barrel", you perceive a shape and do not run into it. This shape, prior to all cultural labels you might stick to it or recognize it as part of cultural-historical activity, is some shape that exists for you in your practices. In two papers, one in Journal of Pragmatics and the other in Social Studies of Science, I describe phenomena for which there are no words or concepts and yet people act toward it. For example, fish culturists sort fish. They can't tell you the difference between the ones that go to the right, down into the bucket, or into the left channel. They ask you to "just look." So they can see it, but not tell it. Similarly, in ecological field work, the participants could see differences but not tell them, that is see that something is not a rock pile even though the definition of a rock pile said it was one. How do you describe or name what they see as difference but for which there is no concept, no "notion" to name and tell the difference? In such cases, "percept" may well do the trick. There are two percepts, they are different, yet there are no cultural-historical concepts to name, theorize, conceptualize . . . As you see from the title of one paper, I used the term "perceptual gestalts" . . . . Don't know whether that resolves your problem, but was useful and the best solution for me. Roth, W.-M. (2005). Making classifications (at) work: Ordering practices in science. Social Studies of Science, 35, 581-621. Roth, W.-M. (2004). Perceptual gestalts in workplace communication. Journal of Pragmatics, 36(6), 1037-1069. Cheers, Michael On 2010-07-09, at 3:43 PM, Martin Packer wrote: "Describe" in what respect, Michael? On Jul 9, 2010, at 4:01 PM, Wolff-Michael Roth wrote:Martin, the percept might describe the forms that appear in perception? What do you think? Michael On 2010-07-09, at 9:46 AM, Martin Packer wrote: Eric, For me, the question that needs to be answered is why we need to introduce a new term, "percept." We can all talk about 'perception,' as an active process of interaction with the world, right? What is gained when we start to talk about 'percepts,' as though there are some little entities floating around somewhere? Haven't we turned a process into an entity? The university has a good selection of DVDs, and I recently checked out the first season of the cable TV channel Showtime's series The Tudors, which recounts how Henry VIII's need for a male heir led to the rupture between England and the Catholic Church. It's not exactly aiming for historical accuracy, but I was then motivated to check out Elton's history of the period and it turns out the series does a pretty good job of touching on most of the important events. Everyone in the show is a fashion statement, including Cardinal Wolsey who, as played by Sam Neil, is both cunning and likable. He shows up each time in a different outfit, wearing a variety of official headgear, each in that rich cardinal red. One morning I was fixing breakfast and reached out for the salt shaker. It's made of transparent plastic with a lid, something we picked up at the supermarket. But the lid is bright red, and (and here's the point; thanks for your patience!) as I picked it up, for a second or two what I saw was a little cardinal.That seems to me a nice example of what Mike has been exploring, the active and ongoing character of perception, in which conceiving and perceiving are intimately linked. I see the object *through* and *in terms* of a concept (though we're still none to sure what that is!), in this case the concept of cardinal that had been enriched by watching the TV show. The process is not entirely within me as an individual, because the salt shaker did its part. To me, saying that I "have" a "percept" doesn't help me understand this process. The percept would be - what, a little red cardinal? or is the percept the salt shaker, and I impose a concept of cardinal on it? but isn't 'salt shaker' a concept too?? Putting all of this stuff inside the individual leads to an infinite regress, not a satisfactory explanation (or even description) of what is going on.Martin On Jul 9, 2010, at 10:43 AM, ERIC.RAMBERG@spps.org wrote:Percept would be preference? I don't know exactly but people do not operate upon appropriated concepts 100% of the time. Do they? Certainly children do not. Currently I am not exactly sure what the question is that needs to be answered.Perhaps the percept in the 'not-wanting-to-listen-to-dylan" for me would be I would prefer listening to the radio seeing as he never gets any air time or perhaps it would be that I am stuck inside of mobile with the memphis blues again? That certainly is a great question. Others with thoughts/percepts/concepts?eric From: Martin Packer <email@example.com> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: 07/09/2010 09:14 AM Subject: Re: [xmca] perception/conception etc Sent by: email@example.com OK, Eric let's suppose you woke up this morning not wanting to listen to Dylan. What is the percept in that situation? Dylan? His music? Your temporary dislike? The fact that yesterday you felt differently? Martin On Jul 9, 2010, at 8:04 AM, ERIC.RAMBERG@spps.org wrote:perhapsMartin:I understand your misgivings about placing construction within butthis makes sense: concepts are appropriated from the social/cultural arena but percepts are individually based. My percepts about music may run counter to yours and there are even days I don't want to listen toBobDylan. However, I have an appropriated concept of music that isprobablyextremely similar to yours. Does this make sense? I know this internal/exteranl debate has raged for years and won't end anytime soon but some things do indeed happen within. I still have to think though that cracking this code between everyday and scietific could assist in understanding human development. eric_______________________________________________ xmca mailing list firstname.lastname@example.org http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca _______________________________________________ xmca mailing list email@example.com http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca_______________________________________________ xmca mailing list firstname.lastname@example.org http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca _______________________________________________ xmca mailing list email@example.com http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca_______________________________________________ xmca mailing list firstname.lastname@example.org http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca _______________________________________________ xmca mailing list email@example.com http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca_______________________________________________ xmca mailing list firstname.lastname@example.org http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca_______________________________________________ xmca mailing list email@example.com http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca-- ------------------------------------------------------------------------ *Andy Blunden* Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/ Videos: http://vimeo.com/user3478333/videos Book: http://www.brill.nl/scss _______________________________________________ xmca mailing list firstname.lastname@example.org http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
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