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The Making of Human Concepts

Denis Mareschal, Paul C. Quinn, and Stephen E.G. Lea


Human adults appear different from other animals in their ability to form abstract mental representations that go beyond perceptual similarity. In short, they can conceptualize the world. When and how does this abstract system come into being? To answer this question we need to explore the origins of adult concepts. When does the developing child acquire the ability to use abstract concepts? Does the transition occur around 2 years, with the onset of symbolic representation and language, or is it independent of the emergence of language? When in evolutionary history did an abstract representat ... More

Keywords: abstract mental representations, perceptual similarity, conceptualization, evolutionary history, human concepts, biological abilities, social history, perceptual associations

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2010 Print ISBN-13: 9780199549221
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199549221.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Denis Mareschal, editor
Birkbeck College, University of London, UK

Paul C. Quinn, editor
University of Delaware

Stephen E.G. Lea, editor
University of Exeter, UK

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Part 1 Theoretical foundations

Chapter 1 Where do concepts come from?

Denis Mareschal, Paul C. Quinn, and Stephen E. G. Lea

Chapter 3 Rules and similarity in adult concept learning

James Close, Ulrike Hahn, Carl J. Hodgetts, and Emmanuel M. Pothos

Chapter 5 The neurobiology of categorization

F. Gregory Ashby and Matthew J. Crossley

Chapter 7 Concepts and culture

Norbert Ross and Michael Tidwell

Part 2 Concept learning across species

Chapter 8 Category learning and concept learning in birds

Olga F. Lazareva and Edward A. Wasserman

Chapter 10 Concepts in monkeys

Michèle Fabre-Thorpe

Part 3 The making of uniquely human concepts

Chapter 17 The evolution of concepts: A timely look

Michael C. Corballis and Thomas Suddendorf

Part 4 Conclusions

Chapter 18 The making of human concepts: A final look

Denis Mareschal, Paul C. Quinn, and Stephen E. G. Lea

End Matter