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Philosophical Interpretation: Conceptualization

Directed by A.M. Mora-Márquez

Conceptualization is a fundamental tool in disciplines such as cognitive psychology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of science and philosophy of language. Its utility rests on the essential role it may play in the explanation of certain processes such as categorizations of the world, inference, learning, scientific development and linguistic communication. Nevertheless, there is little agreement about the features that should be attributed to the result of conceptualization, i.e. concepts, with the result that the question has been raised whether the existence of concepts should be posited at all. Supposing that we grant that concepts exist, there can still be disagreement about a) their ontological status, b) the mechanisms of their acquisition, and c) the nature of the link with the world they represent.

Since our research will be focused mainly on the epistemological and psychological dimensions of the conceptualization problem, we shall leave aside aspect (a) and narrow our research to aspects (b) and (c). As to (b), there are two main and opposite positions: i) The acquisition of concepts depends on sense perception (empiricism); ii) Concepts, or at least some concepts, are innate (nativism). As to (c), there are also two main and opposite positions: i) Concepts have identical structure with the things they represent, so that they are a faithful representation of those things. ii) Concepts are only resemblances of the things they represent, so that they are at best structurally similar to those things.

The team concerned with conceptualization will comprise six participants (Bydén, Fink, Hansen, Kukkonen, Mora-Márquez, and ‘NN1’= the first two-year postdoc to be recruited) whereas five participants will be working on the sensory knowledge team (Bydén, Ierodiakonou, Radovic, Thörnqvist, and ‘NN2’ = the second two-year postdoc to be recruited). Coherence and cooperation will be ensured by means of a common methodology applied ‘cross-culturally’ to the Arabic, Greek and Latin traditions.

We intend to account for both sensory knowledge and conceptualization a) by asking our authors the relevant cluster of questions and by replying to these questions with the notions and commitments found in them; and b) by synthesizing these notions and commitments, without falsifying the authors’ thinking. It is our aim to do justice to ancient and medieval doctrines by highlighting their place in a given context, and to understand and appreciate them in philosophical terms belonging to their own traditions while also keeping in mind the potential relevance of these ideas for contemporary concerns in philosophy, psychology and cognitive science.

Page Manager: Andreas Ott|Last update: 10/28/2016
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