Abstraction and the Origin of General Ideas

Philosophers' Imprint 12:1-22 (2012)

Authors
Eric Margolis
University of British Columbia
Abstract
Philosophers have often claimed that general ideas or representations have their origin in abstraction, but it remains unclear exactly what abstraction as a psychological process consists in. We argue that the Lockean aspiration of using abstraction to explain the origins of all general representations cannot work and that at least some general representations have to be innate. We then offer an explicit framework for understanding abstraction, one that treats abstraction as a computational process that operates over an innate quality space of fine-grained general representations. We argue that this framework has important philosophical implications for the nativism-empiricism dispute, for questions about the acquisition of unstructured representations, and for questions about the relation between human and animal minds.
Keywords Abstraction  Concepts  Conceptual development  Nativism  Empiricism  Locke
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References found in this work BETA

The Origin of Concepts.Susan Carey - 2009 - Oxford University Press.
Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man.Thomas Reid - 2002 - Cambridge University Press.
Mind and World.Huw Price & John McDowell - 1994 - Philosophical Books 38 (3):169-181.
Psychosemantics: The Problem of Meaning In the Philosophy of Mind.Jerry A. FODOR - 1987 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 51 (1):235-240.

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Citations of this work BETA

Hume on the Imagination.Fabian Dorsch - 2015 - Rero Doc Digital Library:1-28.

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