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Functional Features in Language and SpaceInsights from Perception, Categorization, and Development$
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Laura Carlson and Emile van der Zee

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199264339

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199264339.001.0001

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Being Near the Ceramic, but not Near the Mug: On the Role of Construal in Spatial Language

Being Near the Ceramic, but not Near the Mug: On the Role of Construal in Spatial Language

(p.205) 14 Being Near the Ceramic, but not Near the Mug: On the Role of Construal in Spatial Language
Functional Features in Language and Space


Oxford University Press

Construals or conceptions are particular ways of understanding what something is, and, as such, they embody explanatory structures. This chapter presents a theory of the formal explanatory structures embodied in different construals of entities as objects and as stuff, and illustrates how this difference accounts for a number of differences in the ways in which we use spatial language to talk about objects and stuff. It is argued that functional properties are central to our conceptions of many kinds of objects. They are understood to be capacities to act or be acted upon that are understood to follow in virtue of the object being the kind of thing it is (and thus properties that follow in virtue of the object's structure). Furthermore, they explain the existence of the object and/or its structure. It is argued that construals and the formal explanatory structures they embody affect spatial language when a given construal specifies a particular way of thinking about the geometric properties of an entity. Specific situations in which this is the case are discussed.

Keywords:   construals, explanatory structures, objects, stuff, spatial language, functional properties

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