On the birth and growth of concepts

Philosophical Psychology 21 (2):207 – 230 (2008)
This article describes what the earliest concepts are like and presents a theory of the spatial primitives from which they are formed. The earliest concepts tend to be global, like animal and container, and it is hypothesized that they consist of simplified redescriptions of innately salient spatial information. These redescriptions become associated with sensory and other bodily experiences that are not themselves redescribed, but that enrich conceptual thought. The initial conceptual base becomes expanded through subdivision, sometimes aided by language that points up these divisions or suggests new spatial analyses, and by the analogical extension of spatially derived concepts to nonspatial domains. This formulation is contrasted with Fodor's (1998) metaphysical theory of concept formation.
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Lawrence W. Barsalou (1999). Perceptual Symbol Systems. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (4):577-660.

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