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Reclaiming concepts

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The story is told of a physicist who is invited by a dairy farmers’ association to tell them how to get more milk from cows. The physicist begins: ‘First we start with a spherical cow.’ That is told as a joke! Yet far more strange is what cognitivism has done to what is supposed to be the study of human thought and human life. This chapter is about concepts, the central building blocks of cognitivist theory. I will first show how cognitivism necessarily cannot give an adequate treatment of concepts and will then, more importantly (who pays any attention to criticisms?), outline the foundations for a new nonrepresentational view of concepts which should place the study of concepts on a real (rather than a spherical cow) basis.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology, University of California, 3210 Tolman Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720-1650, USA.

Publication date: November 1, 1999


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