Meaning, prototypes and the future of cognitive science

Minds and Machines 1 (3):233-257 (1991)
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Abstract

In this paper I evaluate the soundness of the prototype paradigm, in particular its basic assumption that there are pan-human psychological essences or core meanings that refer to basic-level natural kinds, explaining why, on the whole, human communication and learning are successful. Instead I argue that there are no particular pan-human basic elements for thought, meaning and cognition, neither prototypes, nor otherwise. To illuminate my view I draw on examples from anthropology. More generally I argue that the prototype paradigm exemplifies two assumptions that dominate cognitive science: (1) If human beings use words they mean something particular and what they mean can be discovered by scientific methods. (2) There is a fixed number of domains of categorization, each made up of a fixed number of basic categories. I suggest that these two assumptions lead to Brave New World.

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The ignis fatuus of semantic universalia: The case of colour.J. van Brakel - 1994 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 45 (2):770-783.

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