The brain's concepts: The role of the sensory-motor system in conceptual knowledge
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Concepts are the elementary units of reason and linguistic meaning. They are conventional and relatively stable. As such, they must somehow be the result of neural activity in the brain. The questions are: Where? and How? A common philosophical position is that all concepts—even concepts about action and perception—are symbolic and abstract, and therefore must be implemented outside the brain’s sensory-motor system. We will argue against this position using (1) neuroscientific evidence; (2) results from neural computation; and (3) results about the nature of concepts from cognitive linguistics. We will propose that the sensory-motor system has the right kind of structure to characterise both sensory-motor and more abstract concepts. Central to this picture are the neural theory of language and the theory of cogs, according to which, brain structures in the sensory-motor regions are exploited to characterise the so-called “abstract” concepts that constitute the meanings of grammatical constructions and general inference patterns.
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Pierre Jacob (2008). What Do Mirror Neurons Contribute to Human Social Cognition? Mind and Language 23 (2):190–223.
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Sergeiy Sandler (2011). Reenactment: An Embodied Cognition Approach to Meaning and Linguistic Content. [REVIEW] Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 11 (4):583-598.
Edouard Machery (2010). Précis of Doing Without Concepts. Philosophical Studies 149 (3):602-611.
Adrian John Tetteh Alsmith & Frédérique Vignemont (2012). Embodying the Mind and Representing the Body. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 3 (1):1-13.
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