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The Making of Human Concepts$
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Denis Mareschal, Paul C. Quinn, and Stephen E.G. Lea

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199549221

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199549221.001.0001

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Concepts in human adults

Concepts in human adults

(p.295) Chapter 14 Concepts in human adults
The Making of Human Concepts

James A. Hampton

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at the end result of the long and complex process of the making of human concepts. It suggests that our evolutionary past is still very much a part of our conceptual system. There is plenty of evidence that our minds still make heavy use of associative systems for learning, with similarity-based generalization and a dependence on actually-experienced objects and events, just as might be proposed for the concepts learnt by rats or pigeons. Having an adaptable and fuzzy system of knowledge is much better suited to handling our daily interaction with the world than a discrete symbolic system; as the advocates of fuzzy logic systems for artificial intelligence have demonstrated. However, this basic system for learning the prototype classes in the world around us is overlaid with the culturally transmitted accumulation of concepts enshrined in the language we speak, the books we read, the films we watch, and indeed the university courses we take. These concepts become elaborated through generations of scholarship and provide the solid foundations for knowledge and science.

Keywords:   human concepts, associative learning, fuzzy systems, conceptual learning

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