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

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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.

The MIT Press

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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

Acknowledgments
1Desiderata on a Theory of Concepts1
2Traditional Philosophical Accounts25
3Similarity-Based Accounts51
4Maximal and Minimal Accounts75
5Empiricism Reconsidered103
6Proxytype Theory139
7The Perceptual Basis165
8Overcoming Concept Nativism189
9Intentional Content237
10Cognitive Content263
11Combining Concepts283
Conclusion: Back to Our Senses313
Notes317
References327
Index347

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