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Summary Perception-based theories of concepts hold that concepts represent categories exclusively in terms of perceivable qualities and relations. A concept such as GORILLA, then, would be made up of stored perceptual images of gorillas and their typical behavior. This view is related to classical empiricist theories of ideas insofar as it treats concepts as complex sensorimotor representations. On the most radical versions of this view, even abstract concepts such as TRUTH, ART, or PRIME NUMBER are represented in a perceptual format. These views also have affinities with embodied theories of cognition that explain higher cognitive capacities in terms of sensorimotor processes and bodily structures.
Key works Works that argue for and develop perception-based theories of concepts include Prinz 2002, Barsalou 1999, and Barsalou 2010. Works that are critical of perception-based theories of concepts include Dove 2009, Machery 2006, and Weiskopf 2007.
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  1. added 2019-04-29
    3. Concepts in the Brain.Antonio R. Damasio - 1989 - Mind and Language 4 (1-2):24-28.
  2. added 2019-02-04
    An Efficient Coding Approach to the Debate on Grounded Cognition.Abel Wajnerman Paz - 2018 - Synthese 195 (12):5245-5269.
    The debate between the amodal and the grounded views of cognition seems to be stuck. Their only substantial disagreement is about the vehicle or format of concepts. Amodal theorists reject the grounded claim that concepts are couched in the same modality-specific format as representations in sensory systems. The problem is that there is no clear characterization of format or its neural correlate. In order to make the disagreement empirically meaningful and move forward in the discussion we need a neurocognitive criterion (...)
  3. added 2019-02-04
    A Defense of an Amodal Number System.Abel Wajnerman Paz - 2018 - Philosophies 3 (2):13-0.
    It has been argued that the approximate number system constitutes a problem for the grounded approach to cognition because it implies that some conceptual tasks are performed by non-perceptual systems. The ANS is considered non-perceptual mainly because it processes stimuli from different modalities. Jones has recently argued that this system has many features which are characteristic of sensory systems. Additionally, he affirms that traditional sensory systems also process inputs from different modalities. This suggests that the ANS is a perceptual system (...)
  4. added 2019-02-02
    The Concept of Color as a Grammar Problem in Wittgenstein's Perspective of Language.Luca Nogueira Igansi - 2019 - Philia 1 (1):121-139.
    This essay aims to provide conceptual tools for the understanding of Wittgenstein’s theory of color as a grammar problem instead of a phenomenological or purely scientific one. From an introduction of his understanding of meaning in his early and late life, his notion of grammar will be analyzed to understand his rebuttal of scientific and phenomenological discourse as a proper means for dealing with the problem of color through his critique of Goethe. Then Wittgenstein’s take on color will become clear (...)
  5. added 2019-01-31
    Using Neural Response Properties to Draw the Distinction Between Modal and Amodal Representations.Abel Wajnerman Paz - 2019 - Philosophical Psychology 32 (3):301-331.
    Barsalou has recently argued against the strategy of identifying amodal neural representations by using their cross-modal responses (i.e., their responses to stimuli from different modalities). I agree that there are indeed modal structures that satisfy this “cross-modal response” criterion (CM), such as distributed and conjunctive modal representations. However, I argue that we can distinguish between modal and amodal structures by looking into differences in their cross-modal responses. A component of a distributed cell assembly can be considered unimodal because its responses (...)
  6. added 2018-12-25
    Qualia Qua Qualitons: Mental Qualities as Abstract Particulars.Hilan Bensusan & Eros Moreira De Carvalho - 2011 - Acta Analytica 26 (2):155-163.
    In this paper we advocate the thesis that qualia are tropes (or qualitons), and not (universal) properties. The main advantage of the thesis is that we can accept both the Wittgensteinian and Sellarsian assault on the given and the claim that only subjective and private states can do justice to the qualitative character of experience. We hint that if we take qualia to be tropes, we dissolve the problem of inverted qualia. We develop an account of sensory concept acquisition that (...)
  7. added 2018-12-23
    Smell’s Puzzling Discrepancy: Gifted Discrimination, yet Pitiful Identification.Benjamin D. Young - forthcoming - Mind and Language.
    Humans are gifted at detecting and discriminating odors, yet we have difficulty identifying even the most prevalent everyday odors by name. This paper offers a new explanation for the puzzling discrepancy between our olfactory capacities for discrimination and identification by weaving together recent neuroscientific findings regarding the cortical connectivity of the olfactory system, the olfactory system’s proprietary semantic integration center, and recent philosophical research on the olfactory system’s compositional format of representation. The paper combines these areas of research to develop (...)
  8. added 2018-09-26
    Nonconceptual Epicycles.Sonia Sedivy - 2006 - European Review of Philosophy 6:33-66.
    This paper argues that perception is a mode of engagement with individuals and their determinate properties. Perceptual content involves determinate properties in a way that relies on our conceptual capacities no less than on the properties. The “richness” of perceptual experience is explained as a distinctive individual and property involving content. This position is developed in three steps: (i) novel phenomenological description of lived experience; (ii) detailed reconstruction of Gareth Evans’ proposal that we are capable of genuinely singular thought that (...)
  9. added 2018-09-25
    Observational Concepts and Experience.Ivan V. Ivanov - 2016 - Dissertation, University of Warwick
    The thesis is intended to contribute to the growing understanding of the indispensable role played by phenomenal consciousness in human cognition, and specifically in making our concepts of the external world available. The focus falls on so called observational concepts, a type of rudimentary, perceptually-based objective concepts in our repertoire — picking out manifest properties such as colors and shapes. A theory of such concepts gets provided, and, consequently, the exact role that perceptual consciousness plays in making concepts of this (...)
  10. added 2018-04-30
    Building on Sellars: Concept Formation and Scientific Realism. [REVIEW]Tanya Kelley - 2008 - Metascience 17 (2):257-259.
    Harold Brown has written an ambitious work, which traces the formation of concepts in individuals and cultures, examines case studies of concepts in calculus, mathematics, biology and related fields, summarises important philosophical works on the theory of concepts, and seeks to reconcile scientific realism with conceptual change. Brown considers himself a scientific realist but concedes that this very label is one that depends on a long history of concepts that came before, and may indeed be superseded as conceptual change continues. (...)
  11. added 2018-03-16
    Seeing White and Wrong: Reid on the Role of Sensations in Perception, with a Focus on Color Perception.Lucas Thorpe - 2015 - In Rebecca Copenhaver & Todd Buras (eds.), Thomas Reid on Mind, Knowledge, and Value (Mind Association Occasional Series). Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 100-123.
  12. added 2017-10-17
    Conceptuality of Unreflective Actions in Flow: McDowell-Dryfus Debate.Ali Far - 2015 - GSTF Journal of General Philosophy 1 (2).
    The objective of this paper is to supplement Gottlieb’s challenge to Dryfus who claims that concepts are not operative in expert’s unreflective actions. First, concepts that an agent develops over time with practice, starting from the stage of novelty, become deeply rooted and persist through his expertise stage, according to common sense. It is unlikely that such rooted concepts become inoperative just when it is time for the agent to put them to use during the time that he is in (...)
  13. added 2017-09-07
    Review of Christopher Gauker, Words and Images: An Essay on the Origin of Ideas, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. [REVIEW]Robert Briscoe - 2014 - Mind 123 (491):902-096.
  14. added 2017-07-06
    Brentano's Empiricism and the Philosophy of Intentionality.Mark Textor - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 98 (1):50-68.
    Brentano's Thesis that intentionality is the mark of the mental is central to analytic philosophy of mind as well as phenomenology. The contemporary discussion assumes that it is a formulation of an analytic definition of the mental. I argue that this assumption is mistaken. According to Brentano, many philosophical concepts can only be elucidated by perceiving their instances because these concepts are abstracted from perception. The concept of the mental is one of these concepts. We need to understand Brentano's Thesis (...)
  15. added 2017-05-09
    On the Nature and Composition of Abstract Concepts: The X-Ception Theory and Methods for Its Assessment.Remo Job, Claudio Mulatti, Sara Dellantonio & Luigi Pastore - 2015 - In Woosuk Park, Ping Li & Lorenzo Magnani (eds.), Philosophy and Cognitive Science Ii. Springer Verlag.
    The ‘standard picture of meaning’ suggests that natural languages are composed of two different kinds of words: concrete words whose meaning rely on observable properties of external objects and abstract words which are essentially linguistic constructs. In this study, we challenge this picture and support a new view of the nature and composition of abstract concepts suggesting that they also rely to a greater or lesser degree on body-related information. Specifically, we support a version of this new view which we (...)
  16. added 2017-05-05
    Concepts and Meaning.Lawerence Barsalou - 1993 - In L. Barsalou, W. Yeh, B. Luka, K. Olseth, K. Mix & L. Wu (eds.), Chicago Linguistic Society 29: Papers From the Parasession on Conceptual Representations. University of Chicago. pp. 23-61.
  17. added 2017-05-05
    Space Concepts in Psychology.Tarow Indow - 1963 - Journal of the Japan Association for Philosophy of Science 6 (2):47-55.
  18. added 2017-02-14
    Prinz, Jesse J. Furnishing the Mind: Concepts and Their Perceptual Basis. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 358 P.(2002)[2004]. [REVIEW]Felipe de Brigard - 2007 - Ideas Y Valores 56 (133):163-168.
  19. added 2017-02-09
    Transfinite Concepts and Empiricism.C. G. Hempel - 1938 - Synthese 3 (12):9 - 12.
  20. added 2017-02-08
    Can Concept Empiricism Forestall Eliminativism?Jesse Prinz - 2010 - Mind and Language 25 (5):612-621.
    In this commentary, I focus on Machery's criticism of Neo-Empiricism. I argue that Neo-Empiricism can survive Machery's critique, and I show that there is an empiricist strategy for forestalling eliminativism.
  21. added 2017-02-07
    Furnishing the Mind.Andrea Bianchi - 2006 - Philosophical Books 47 (1):52-61.
  22. added 2017-02-07
    Prinz's Problematic Proxytypes.Raffaella De Rosa - 2005 - Philosophical Quarterly 55 (221):594 - 606.
    Jesse Prinz has argued that a proxytype theory of concepts provides what he calls the 'intentionality' and 'cognitive content' desiderata better than any current competitor, and that the hybrid nature of proxytypes allows his theory to combine the informational component of informational atomism with the view that concepts are semantically structured entities. In response, I argue that the hybrid character of proxytypes, far from delivering the advantages Prinz claims, generates a threatening dilemma: either his theory is novel but fails to (...)
  23. added 2017-02-07
    Jesse J. Prinz,Furnishing the Mind: Concepts and Their Perceptual Basis. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2002. [REVIEW]Jonathan M. Weinberg, Daniel Yarlett, Michael Ramscar, Dan Ryder & Jesse J. Prinz - 2003 - Metascience 12 (3):279-303.
  24. added 2017-02-01
    Corrupted Concepts and Empiricism.Wilhelm K. Essler - 1978 - Erkenntnis 12 (2):181 - 187.
  25. added 2017-01-22
    Concept Empiricism, Content, and Compositionality.Collin Rice - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 162 (3):567-583.
    Concepts are the constituents of thoughts. Therefore, concepts are vital to any theory of cognition. However, despite their widely accepted importance, there is little consensus about the nature and origin of concepts. Thanks to the work of Lawrence Barsalou, Jesse Prinz and others concept empiricism has been gaining momentum within the philosophy and psychology literature. Concept empiricism maintains that all concepts are copies, or combinations of copies, of perceptual representations—that is, all concepts are couched in the codes of perceptual representation (...)
  26. added 2017-01-21
    Reply to Barbara Malt and Jesse Prinz.Edouard Machery - 2010 - Mind and Language 25 (5):634-646.
    In this response to Malt's and Prinz's commentaries, I argue that neo-empiricist hypotheses fail to threaten the argument for the elimination of ‘concept’ because they are unlikely to be true of all concepts, if they are true at all. I also defend the hypothesis that we possess bodies of knowledge retrieved by default from long-term memory, and I argue that prototypes, exemplars, and theories form genuinely distinct concepts.
  27. added 2016-12-08
    Contenido conceptual - contenido no conceptual: una distinción de tipo.Dany Mauricio González Parra - 2014 - Escritos 22 (49):369-397.
    La distinción entre contenidos conceptuales y no-conceptuales tiene claras repercusiones en el modo en que el hombre configura su mundo, así como en la posibilidad de atribuir pensamiento, en sentido estricto, a sistemas y organismos no humanos. Con el fin de clarificar dicha distinción, en el presente trabajo se plantea una noción básica de estado mental y, especialmente, una definición clara de lo que es un concepto y las características esenciales de los estados en que estos aparecen. Lo que se (...)
  28. added 2016-12-08
    On Imagism About Phenomenal Thought.Pär Sundström - 2011 - Philosophical Review 120 (1):43-95.
    Imagism about Phenomenal Thought is (roughly) the view that there is some concept *Q* (for some sensory quality Q) that we can employ only while we experience the quality Q. I believe this view is theoretically significant, is or can be made intuitively appealing, and is explicitly or implicitly accepted by many contemporary philosophers However, there is no good reason to accept it. Or so I argue.
  29. added 2016-02-08
    Perceptual Concepts: In Defence of the Indexical Model.François Recanati - 2013 - Synthese 190 (10):1841-1855.
    Francois Recanati presents the basic features of the *indexical model* of mental files, and defends it against several interrelated objections. According to this model, mental files refer to objects in a way that is analogous to that of indexicals in language: a file refers to an object in virtue of a contextual relation between them. For instance, perception and attention provide the basis for demonstrative files. Several objections, some of them from David Papineau, concern the possibility of files to preserve (...)
  30. added 2016-02-08
    Embodied Cognition: Grounded Until Further Notice?Cory Wright - 2008 - British Journal of Psychology 99:157-164.
    Embodied Cognition is the kind of view that is all trees, no forest. Mounting experimental evidence gives it momentum in fleshing out the theoretical problems inherent in Cognitivists’ separation of mind and body. But the more its proponents compile such evidence, the more the fundamental concepts of Embodied Cognition remain in the dark. This conundrum is nicely exemplified by Pecher and Zwaan’s book, Grounding Cognition, which is a programmatic attempt to rally together an array of empirical results and linguistic data, (...)
  31. added 2016-01-08
    Modes of Presentation: Perceptual Vs Deferential.Francois Recanati - 2001 - In Albert Newen, Ulrich Nortmann & Rainer Stuehlmann-Laeisz (eds.), Building on Frege: New Essays on Sense, Content, and Concept. CSLI Stanford. pp. 197-208.
    Through perception we gain information about the world. We also gain information about the world through communication with others. There are concepts — indexical concepts, such as the concept of the present time ('now') or of the present place ('here') or the concept of oneself — which have a special link to perception. Are there concepts which are tied to communication in the same way in which indexical concepts are tied to perception? After discussing, and criticizing, a deflationary approach to (...)
  32. added 2015-11-30
    Putting Concepts to Work: Some Thoughts for the 21st Century.Andy Clark & Jesse Prinz - unknown
    Fodor’s theory makes thinking prior to doing. It allows for an inactive agent or pure reflector, and for agents whose actions in various ways seem to float free of their own conceptual repertoires. We show that naturally evolved creatures are not like that. In the real world, thinking is always and everywhere about doing. The point of having a brain is to guide the actions of embodied beings in a complex material world. Some of those actions are, to be sure, (...)
  33. added 2015-11-30
    Proxytypes and Linguistic Nativism.John M. Collins - 2006 - Synthese 153 (1):69-104.
    Prinz (Perceptual the Mind: Concepts and Their Perceptual Basis, MIT Press, 2002) presents a new species of concept empiricism, under which concepts are off-line long-term memory networks of representations that are ‘copies’ of perceptual representations – proxytypes. An apparent obstacle to any such empiricism is the prevailing nativism of generative linguistics. The paper critically assesses Prinz’s attempt to overcome this obstacle. The paper argues that, prima facie, proxytypes are as incapable of accounting for the structure of the linguistic mind as (...)
  34. added 2015-11-30
    Metaphoric Structuring: Understanding Time Through Spatial Metaphors.Lera Boroditsky - 2000 - Cognition 75 (1):1-28.
  35. added 2015-11-30
    Reuniting Perception and Conception.Robert L. Goldstone & Lawrence W. Barsalou - 1998 - Cognition 65 (2-3):231-262.
  36. added 2015-11-30
    Flexibility, Structure, and Linguistic Vagary in Concepts: Manifestations of a Compositional System of Perceptual Symbols.Lawrence W. Barsalou - 1993 - In A. Collins, S. Gathercole, Martin A. Conway & P. E. Morris (eds.), Theories of Memory. Lawrence Erlbaum. pp. 1.
  37. added 2014-03-28
    The Relevance of Nonsymbolic Cognition to Husserl's Fifth Meditation.Albert A. Johnstone - 1999 - Philosophy Today 43 (supplement):88-98.
  38. added 2014-03-25
    Replies to Critics.Jerry A. Fodor - 2000 - Mind and Language 15 (2-3):350-374.
  39. added 2014-03-21
    What Makes Perceptual Symbols Perceptual?Murat Aydede - 1999 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (4):610-611.
    It is argued that three major attempts by Barsalou to specify what makes a perceptual symbol perceptual fail. It is suggested that one way to give such an account is to employ the symbols.
  40. added 2014-03-21
    Sort-of Symbols?Daniel C. Dennett & Christopher D. Viger - 1999 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (4):613-613.
    Barsalou's elision of the personal and sub-personal levels tends to conceal the fact that he is, at best, providing the “specs” but not yet a model for his hypothesized perceptual symbols.
  41. added 2014-03-19
    Putting Concepts to Work: Some Thoughts for the Twenty First Century.Andy Clark & Jesse J. Prinz - 2004 - Mind and Language 19 (1):57-69.
    Fodor’s theory makes thinking prior to doing. It allows for an inactive agent or pure reflector, and for agents whose actions in various ways seem to float free of their own conceptual repertoires. We show that naturally evolved creatures are not like that. In the real world, thinking is always and everywhere about doing. The point of having a brain is to guide the actions of embodied beings in a complex material world. Some of those actions are, to be sure, (...)
  42. added 2014-03-19
    Perceptual Symbols and Taxonomy Comparison.Xiang Chen - 2001 - Philosophy of Science 3 (September):S200-S212.
    Many recent cognitive studies reveal that human cognition is inherently perceptual, sharing systems with perception at both the conceptual and the neural levels. This paper introduces Barsalou's theory of perceptual symbols and explores its implications for philosophy of science. If perceptual symbols lie in the heart of conceptual processing, the process of attribute selection during concept representation, which is critical for defining similarity and thus for comparing taxonomies, can no longer be determined solely by background beliefs. The analogous nature of (...)
  43. added 2014-03-18
    The Multimedia Mnd: An Analysis of Prinz on Concepts.John Sarnecki - 2004 - Philosophical Psychology 17 (3):403-18.
    In his new book, Furnishing the mind, Jesse Prinz argues that a new form of empiricism can break the logjam that currently frustrates attempts to develop a theory of concepts. I argue that Prinz's new way with empiricism is ultimately unsuccessful. In maintaining that all cognition is reducible to perceptual constructs, Prinz is unable to provide an effective model of the nature of individual concepts or their role in thought. Three major problems are addressed in reverse order. Prinz does not (...)
  44. added 2014-03-18
    Concepts a la Modal: An Extended Review of Prinz's Furnishing the Mind. [REVIEW]A. Markman & H. C. Stilwell - 2004 - Philosophical Psychology 17 (3):391-401.
    In Furnishing the mind, Prinz defends a view of concept representation that assumes all representations are rooted in perception. This view is attractive, because it makes clear how concepts could be learned from experience in the world. In this paper, we discuss three limitations of the view espoused by Prinz. First, the central proposal requires more detail in order to support the claim that all representations are modal. Second, it is not clear that a theory of concepts must make a (...)
  45. added 2014-03-18
    Sensible Ideas: A Reply to Sarnecki and Markman and Stilwell.Jesse J. Prinz - 2004 - Philosophical Psychology 17 (3):419-430.
    In Furnishing the mind, I argued that concepts are couched in representational formats that are indigenous to sensory systems. I called this thesis "concept empiricism," because I think it is was a central tenet of the philosophical program defended by classical British empiricists, such as Locke and Hume. I still think that concept empiricism is true, and more empirical evidence has accrued since the book went to press. That's the good news. The bad news is that able critics have marshaled (...)
  46. added 2014-03-14
    Concept Empiricism: A Methodological Critique.Edouard Machery - 2006 - Cognition 104 (1):19-46.
  47. added 2014-03-13
    Seeing, Doing, and Knowing: A Précis. [REVIEW]Mohan Matthen - 2008 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 76 (2):392–399.
  48. added 2014-03-11
    Hunting Fat Gnu: How to Identify a Proxytype.David DeMoss - 2004 - Essays in Philosophy 5 (1):1-10.
  49. added 2014-03-09
    Furnishing the Mind: Concepts and Their Perceptual Basis.Jesse J. Prinz - 2002 - MIT Press.
  50. added 2014-03-07
    Concepts: Stored or Created?Marco Mazzone & Elisabetta Lalumera - 2010 - Minds and Machines 20 (1):47-68.
    Are concepts stable entities, unchanged from context to context? Or rather are they context-dependent structures, created on the fly? We argue that this does not constitute a genuine dilemma. Our main thesis is that the more a pattern of features is general and shared, the more it qualifies as a concept. Contextualists have not shown that conceptual structures lack a stable, general core, acting as an attractor on idiosyncratic information. What they have done instead is to give a contribution to (...)
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