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What Are Concepts?

 
 
Reply Mon 21 Dec, 2009 01:26 am
What are concepts? How are they born? Different types of concepts seem to be born in different ways.


In Cognitive linguistics, abstract concepts are transformations of concrete concepts derived from embodied experience. The mechanism of transformation is structural mapping, in which properties of two or more source domains are selectively mapped onto a blended space. A common class of blends are metaphors. This theory contrasts with the rationalist view that concepts are perceptions of an independently existing world of ideas, in that it denies the existence of any such realm. It also contrasts with the empiricist view that concepts are abstract generalizations of individual experiences, because the contingent and bodily experience is preserved in a concept, and not abstracted away.
According to Deleuze and Guattari's What Is Philosophy? (1991), philosophy is the activity of creating concepts. This creative activity differs from previous definitions of philosophy as simple reasoning, communication or contemplation of Universals. Concepts are specific to philosophy: science creates "functions", and art "sensations". A concept is always signed: thus, Descartes' Cogito or Kant's "transcendental". It is a singularity, not universal, and connects itself with others concepts, on a "plane of immanence" traced by a particular philosophy. Concepts can jump from one plane of immanence to another, combining with other concepts and therefore engaging in a "becoming-Other."
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Quinn phil
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Dec, 2009 01:32 am
@Reconstructo,
I believe that concepts are everything that people think. Some say that it's whatever's held or retained in the mind, or whatever is understood. A concept can be created by a man who speaks a language that is nearly extinct. Meaning more specifically, he's the last one to speak it. Okay, noone understands him then. it's still a concept, because HE understands it, and HE retains it.

Concepts don't have to be philosophical either. It can be, "Two duckies, plus another two duckies, equals four duckies."

That is considered level concept, for perhaps a three-year old. Tis concept the nonetheless.
0 Replies
 
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Dec, 2009 01:51 am
@Reconstructo,
You know what one of the strangest concepts is? "Concepts" It comes from the word for knocking a girl up it seems. Hmmm. Foolosophy is manly indeed? Or perhaps all the more female, since conception occurs in Sophia...
Quinn phil
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Dec, 2009 09:28 am
@Reconstructo,
Wow, really? Where and when did you find that out? Because, that's hard for me to believe.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Dec, 2009 09:38 am
@Quinn phil,
Quinn;113262 wrote:
Wow, really? Where and when did you find that out? Because, that's hard for me to believe.


It should be.........................It is an example of pseudo-etymology.
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Dec, 2009 04:49 pm
@kennethamy,
Go back far enough and it meant "take in." As an English word it meant to "become pregnant" and also "begin." And all of these definitions are still abstract and metaphor themselves! Until we hit the bedrock of the names of objects, we are still in the realm of abstraction which is metaphor......

A person just has to take some time and think about it. Imagine humanity at the beginning of language use. Concepts weren't always here. They had to be created. Probably the word for "red" was the name of a berry. When Joe the caveman saw a bird like the berry, he could say "berry." Eventually folks could say "berry" and know that "red" was meant. It's the same with numbers. What do three frogs and three birds have in common? Threeness. We slowly build on this pile, till we have a concept for concept itself. Get out your magnifying glass. What are words made of, after all? How is meaning created?

Our abstract language is a coral reef of dead metaphors.


Main Entry: noun
Etymology: Latin conceptum, neuter of conceptus, past participle of concipere to conceive - more at conceive

Main Entry:
Pronunciation: \kən-ˈsēv\
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): ;
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French conceivre, from Latin concipere to take in, conceive, from com- + capere to take - more at heave
Date: 14th century
transitive verb 1 a : to become pregnant with (young) <conceive a child> b : to cause to begin : originate <a project conceived by the company's founder>
2 a : to take into one's mind <conceive a prejudice> b : to form a conceptionhttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/2_bing.gif of : imagine <a badly conceived design>
3 : to apprehend by reason or imagination : understand <unable to conceive his reasons>
4 : to have as an opinion <I cannot conceive that he acted alone>intransitive verb 1 : to become pregnant
2 : to have a conception -usually used with of <conceives of death as emptiness>
synonyms see think
- noun

Origin of language - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Lexical-phonological principle

Hockett (1966) details a list of features regarded as essential to describing human language. In the domain of the lexical-phonological principle, two features of this list are most important:

  • Productivity: users can create and understand completely novel messages.
    • New messages are freely coined by blending, analogizing from, or transforming old ones.
    • Either new or old elements are freely assigned new semantic loads by circumstances and context. This says that in every language, new idioms constantly come into existence.


  • Duality (of Patterning): a large number of meaningful elements are made up of a conveniently small number of meaningless but message-differentiating elements.

The sound system of a language is composed of a finite set of simple phonological items. Under the specific phonotactic rules of a given language, these items can be recombined and concatenated, giving rise to morphology and the open-ended lexicon. A key feature of language is that a simple, finite set of phonological items gives rise to an infinite lexical system wherein rules determine the form of each item, and meaning is inextricably linked with form. Phonological syntax, then, is a simple combination of pre-existing phonological units. Related to this is another essential feature of human language: lexical syntax, wherein pre-existing units are combined, giving rise to semantically novel or distinct lexical items.
longknowledge
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Dec, 2009 07:21 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;113343 wrote:
A person just has to take some time and think about it. Imagine humanity at the beginning of language use. Concepts weren't always here. They had to be created. Probably the word for "red" was the name of a berry. When Joe the caveman saw a bird like the berry, he could say "berry." Eventually folks could say "berry" and know that "red" was meant. It's the same with numbers. What do three frogs and three birds have in common? Threeness. We slowly build on this pile, till we have a concept for concept itself. Get out your magnifying glass. What are words made of, after all? How is meaning created?



Before we try to understand concepts we have to understand words. Let me refer you to the most fascinating book that I have read in the last 20 years, other than Ortega, who is always fascinating:

The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World, by David Abram (Vintage Books, 1996).

Book Overview
"David Abram draws on sources as diverse as the philosophy of Merleau-Ponty, Balinese shamanism, Apache storytelling, and his own experience as an accomplished sleight-of-hand magician to reveal the subtle dependence of human cognition on the natural environment. He explores the character of perception and excavates the sensual foundations of language, which--even at its most abstract--echoes the calls and cries of the earth. On every page of this lyrical work, Abram weaves his arguments with passion and intellectual daring." - Google Books

Editorial Review
"Philosopher and ecologist Abram writes an absorbing, challenging treatise on the power of written language to separate human beings from their experiential relationship to the nonhuman environment, permitting, in the process, the abuse of nature. Abram contrasts the sensuous relationship between oral indigenous peoples and their surroundings with the physical detachment inherent in an alphabet-based culture such as ours. Oral cultures relate by necessity to the earth and sky, transmitting knowledge through stories that can be adapted to changing circumstances, always attending to the "language" of the biotica and inanimate objects. Written language, conversely, demands participation of eyes and ears only, rather than of all the senses, and has become a "wholly self-reflexive mode of animism." While pictographs and ideographs were written language, they retained visual participation with the natural world; the alphabet's legacy has been to isolate humans from their natural origins. Abram discusses how the ancient Hebrew alphabet--which excludes vowel sounds, he speculates, out of a respect for their essence as "sounded breath," a "reverence for the air"--was coopted by the Greeks, who obliterated its pictographic quality and added vowels, which eradicated the "interactive, synaesthetic participation" of the reader and "effectively desacralized the breath and the air." In other parts of this work, Abram presents more contemporary examples of oral indigenous cultures, including the Australian aborigine and the Apache of the American Southwest, who existed by participating in the language of their particular landscapes and who, once forced from these places, lost the basis for coherence in their cultures. It is only through greater responsiveness to their surroundings on this local scale, Abram maintains, that people can effectively address the pressing needs of the planet. Despite a few philosophically dense passages, Abram delivers an original and convincing premise for our dissociation from the natural world." - Kirkus Reviews, Copyright (c) VNU Business Media, Inc.
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Dec, 2009 09:33 pm
@Reconstructo,
Concepts are any number of pure abstractions...Number would not qualify, because the form follows a certain reality... Justice, liberty, life, God, virtue and that sort of thing having no tangible equivalent are concepts... They are still forms, but not forms of experience, sense, Not ideas of perception...In some senses, math can be an abstraction of an abstraction, and so it has an extreme of concept that number alone does not have... Does that make sense to you???

Let me see if I can explain it better...There is only one number, and it is the monad... One is one, and the only number... Two is two ones, and three is three ones and etc, all in ratio to one... Yet, for example, there is no 1/2 of one... If there were, that would be a one... But with math, as an abstraction of this abstraction anything is possible, any fraction and any infinte...But because it reaches a point of pure abstraction it becomes difficult for any but the talented and initiated to deal with it...It is no wonder that the Pythagorians, if I have them right, thought that numbers were the true reality... Some people confuse their reflections with themselves, so it is not all that unusual; but rather incorrect...

It is wrong to think of words as concepts... Each one is a form, a name of a form... Language is a concept, or perhaps a conceptual manifold...Only as abstractions, of intangibles, of human subjective experience can some words be considered as concepts...Not the whole of the concept by any means, but the label...As Schopenhaur pointed out, the Greek equivilent for the Latin ratio, that became rational, came out of logic which came out of logos; Word...It is a sort of natural progression...Before we can reason we must first name what we are talking about (Identity)...And then as Voltaire said: define our terms...
0 Replies
 
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Dec, 2009 09:38 pm
@longknowledge,
longknowledge;113366 wrote:
Abram contrasts the sensuous relationship between oral indigenous peoples and their surroundings with the physical detachment inherent in an alphabet-based culture such as ours.

That's a good point. To stare at scribbles is something quite different than hearing a living human voice, with its individual timbre, emotion, and context. This is why drama/movies are so good. Actors bring the words to holistic life within human situations. The written word has helped us forget that words are also sounds and feelings(music).

For me this issue of the origin of abstract concepts is vital, central. Man is conception-in-progress, always-being-born. Largely he is his words, lives in his words. This is where know thyself and define your terms meet. To truly define one's terms (perhaps an impossible ideal) is to know one's self.

???
0 Replies
 
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Dec, 2009 09:53 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;113171 wrote:
You know what one of the strangest concepts is? "Concepts" It comes from the word for knocking a girl up it seems. Hmmm. Foolosophy is manly indeed? Or perhaps all the more female, since conception occurs in Sophia...


Ya; and that may come from a time when men thought a woman's contribution to birth was a womb...
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Dec, 2009 09:55 pm
@Reconstructo,
Well, the womb gets you from point C to point B, but not unless you're coming from D in the first place.
0 Replies
 
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2009 02:06 am
@Reconstructo,
We use them all the time. We examine not so often. What are concepts made of? Is it...metaphor?
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2009 06:41 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;113485 wrote:
We use them all the time. We examine not so often. What are concepts made of? Is it...metaphor?

concepts are not made of anything...They are not real...What is your reflection made of???We do recreate our reality as we conceive of it... When we can make some functioning reality upon a conceptual understanding of reality that is the best proof that the concept was correct...And note that here I am using the term concept as it is generally used, in place of form, or idea, and not as Schopenhaur uses the term, specifically for pure abstraction...
0 Replies
 
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2009 02:51 pm
@Reconstructo,
Our human interaction with the real is mediated by concepts. Perhaps you tend to emphasize that some concepts are more "out there" in the real world than others. I agree with this. Some concepts are more vital than others, less like thought-toys.

Have you any thoughts on how concepts are created? Do you see my point about metaphor/trope being the birth of concept?
0 Replies
 
longknowledge
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Dec, 2009 12:37 am
@Reconstructo,
According to Ortega, the idea of a metaphor originated in an expression such as:

"Hard, not rock." Which became:

"Hard, like a rock"

"Hard as a rock"

"Rock-like hardness"

"Rock-hard"

"Hard-rock"

"Rocky Balboa"

"Hardy har-d!"

:flowers:
0 Replies
 
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Dec, 2009 12:48 am
@Reconstructo,
I see. It seems that negation words have always been useful. Not long ago, I really got stuck on the power of the word "as." "As" as "is light."
0 Replies
 
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Dec, 2009 06:19 am
@Reconstructo,
Why not look at the ability of every person on the earth: signification...The ability to recognize patterns, similarities, likeness may result from the complexity of our brains, and yet has no doubt added to our complexity through evolution...What Long knowledge suggests; a verbal conceptualization of reality, should look at the subject... As many of our philosophical terms suggest, such as reflection, or idea, or imagination - it is the visual element which is the basis of our concepts...Look at what we cannot directly conceive of: scents, and sounds... Each of these qualities cannot be conceived of without their source: as in the scent of a rose, or the sound of a violin...The reason language is so useful in conception is that it does not add or detract from the object...Consider if you had to paint a picture to describe a scene..It is more likely that technique or want of skill would detract from the message..We are on much better ground with words, because communicating with bits of sounds, each by themselves having no particular meaning other than the meaninng we give to them does not distract from the message we wish to give... Concepts mean because they are visual...Signs mean for the same reason...
0 Replies
 
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Dec, 2009 04:40 pm
@Reconstructo,
I agree that most concepts have visual roots. I suppose what I want to investigate especially is the creation of philosophical concepts. For instance, the concept of causality and the concept of concept itself. "Trope" is itself a trope. I'm talking about the evolution of language here, and the invention of new concepts.
0 Replies
 
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Dec, 2009 04:54 pm
@Reconstructo,
They are not created... Concepts are not created... Signs can be used by not created...The eight sides of a stop sign would be meaningless without the color...The object is but the form means... This means that... Cat stands for the objective animal... It means that... Okay; whether it is an outline in the dirt or a scientific definition it must mean that thing to more than one mind... We could not know as individuals without forms and we could not communicate at all without forms, and there you have culture, knowledge and communication...Forms are knowledge...What we know of God is our concept of God, as foggy as that is...They are not created...Form is the best word, and it has its faults... Forms for concrete mould concrete to a certain shape... Forms do not form anything, but are formed to a certain object of our attention...
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Dec, 2009 05:09 pm
@Fido,
Fido;113912 wrote:
Cat stands for the objective animal...


You used the word "objective." You really don't think that concept was created? Even the word "object" is abstract. The word "animal." You also use the word "stands" in a non-literal way. Stands is an example of trope. It's figurative language that generates concept.

Go back to the first time someone used "stand" that way. How strange it must have seemed. It caught on, though, because it was good figurative language. It got the point across. (which is more figurative language.)

This is where concepts come from: figurative language reused until it no longer seems figurative but literal (the word "literal" comes from "letter" = figurative language (trope))
 

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