Furnishing the Mind: Concepts and Their Perceptual Basis

Furnishing the Mind: Concepts and Their Perceptual Basis

by Jesse J. Prinz
     
 

ISBN-10: 0262661853

ISBN-13: 9780262661850

Pub. Date: 09/01/2004

Publisher: MIT Press

Western philosophy has long been divided between empiricists, who argue that human understanding has its basis in experience, and rationalists, who argue that reason is the source of knowledge. A central issue in the debate is the nature of concepts, the internal representations we use to think about the world. The traditional empiricist thesis that concepts are

Overview

Western philosophy has long been divided between empiricists, who argue that human understanding has its basis in experience, and rationalists, who argue that reason is the source of knowledge. A central issue in the debate is the nature of concepts, the internal representations we use to think about the world. The traditional empiricist thesis that concepts are built up from sensory input has fallen out of favor. Mainstream cognitive science tends to echo the rationalist tradition, with its emphasis on innateness. In Furnishing the
Mind
, Jesse Prinz attempts to swing the pendulum back toward empiricism.

Prinz provides a critical survey of leading theories of concepts, including imagism, definitionism, prototype theory, exemplar theory,
the theory theory, and informational atomism. He sets forth a new defense of concept empiricism that draws on philosophy, neuroscience, and psychology and introduces a new version of concept empiricism called proxytype theory. He also provides accounts of abstract concepts, intentionality, narrow content, and concept combination. In an extended discussion of innateness, he covers Noam Chomsky's arguments for the innateness of grammar, developmental psychologists' arguments for innate cognitive domains, and Jerry Fodor's argument for radical concept nativism.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780262661850
Publisher:
MIT Press
Publication date:
09/01/2004
Series:
Representation and Mind series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
368
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.75(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsix
1Desiderata on a Theory of Concepts1
1.1Introduction1
1.2Desiderata3
1.3Do We Need Language Desiderata?16
1.4Preview22
2Traditional Philosophical Accounts25
2.1Imagism25
2.2Definitionism32
2.3Conclusions48
3Similarity-Based Accounts51
3.1Prototype Theory51
3.2Exemplar Theory63
3.3Conclusions72
4Maximal and Minimal Accounts75
4.1The Theory Theory75
4.2Informational Atomism89
4.3Conclusions100
5Empiricism Reconsidered103
5.1Introduction103
5.2What Is Concept Empiricism?106
5.3Why Empiricism?122
5.4Conclusion137
6Proxytype Theory139
6.1From Percepts to Proxytypes139
6.2Publicity152
6.3Categorization161
6.4Conclusion164
7The Perceptual Basis165
7.1The Scope Trial165
7.2Countering Counterexamples169
7.3Conclusion187
8Overcoming Concept Nativism189
8.1Stances on Nativism190
8.2Arguments for Innateness198
8.3Conclusion235
9Intentional Content237
9.1Philosophical Theories of Intentionality237
9.2Informational Semantics241
9.3A Hybrid Theory249
9.4Conclusion260
10Cognitive Content263
10.1Narrow Approaches to Cognitive Content263
10.2Proxytypes and Cognitive Content270
10.3Nominal Content and Real Content276
10.4Conclusion282
11Combining Concepts283
11.1Confounded Combinations283
11.2Compositionality: How Much Is Enough?286
11.3A Three-Stage Model of Concept Combination301
11.4Conclusion312
Conclusion: Back to Our Senses313
Notes317
References327
Index347

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