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Meaning, Mind and Communication

Explorations in Cognitive Semiotics

Edited By Jordan Zlatev, Göran Sonesson and Piotr Konderak

This volume constitutes the first anthology of texts in cognitive semiotics – the new transdisciplinary study of meaning, mind and communication that combines concepts and methods from semiotics, cognitive science and linguistics – from a multitude of established and younger scholars. The chapters deal with the interaction between language and other semiotic resources, the role of consciousness and concepts, the nature of metaphor, the specificity of human evolution and development, the relation between cognitive semiotics and related fields, and other central topics. They are grouped in four sections: (i) Meta-theoretical perspectives, (ii) Semiotic development and evolution, (iii) Meaning across media, modes and modalities, (iv) Language, blends and metaphors.

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Chapter 3. A Cognitive Semiotic Perspective on the Nature and Limitations of Concepts and Conceptual Frameworks (Joel Parthemore)


Joel Parthemore

Chapter 3

A Cognitive Semiotic Perspective on the Nature and Limitations of Concepts and Conceptual Frameworks

1. Introduction: From cognitive science to cognitive semiotics

What philosophy of mind calls theories of concepts (for a representative listing of theories, see Section 3.2), cognitive science has long described as knowledge representation (Section 3.4). Regardless of the choice of terminology, the concern is with addressing how it is – and what precisely it means to say – that the thought patterns of non-infant human beings (if not others) are systematic and productive: systematic in that the same ideas can be applied in essentially the same way in each new context the agent encounters; productive in that a finite number of these ideas can be combined into unboundedly many complex structures that can, in the human case at least, be expressed in language: e.g., the notion of a politically left-leaning, possibly Asperger’s, science-fiction reading, computer-game playing, bicycle riding American philosopher of mind with a taste for hot chili peppers, a notion I came up with just now. Indeed, cognitive science – whose roots are often traced back to the Dartmouth conference of 1957 – has been seen by many as preoccupied, since its foundation, with what it means to have a (human) mind – presumably something more than a pure stimulus/response system – and whether and in what sense that mind could be said to be “computable”.

Cognitive science, as traditionally practiced, has often and justly been held...

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