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Concepts as Correlates of Lexical Labels

A Cognitivist Perspective


Slawomir Wacewicz

The study of language becomes particularly attractive when it is not practised as an isolated descriptive enterprise, but when it has wide-ranging implications for the study of the human mind. Such is the spirit of this book. While categorisation may be the single most basic cognitive process in organisms, and as an area of inquiry, it is fundamental to Cognitive Science as a whole, at the other end of the spectrum, high-level cognition is organised and permeated by language, giving rise to categories that count and function as concepts. Working from considering the philosophical assumptions of the cognitivist perspective, this study offers an argument for a very productive understanding of the relation between concepts, categories, and their theoretical models.
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7. From prototype to exemplar models in nonlexical and lexical categorisation


7. From prototype to exemplar models in nonlexical and lexical categorisation

7.1 Preliminary remarks

In the seventh, and final, chapter, I conclude my work by considering the possibilities of application of the exemplar view to the issue of lexical-semantic categorisation. Having established the inadequacy of the major competing approaches – the classical view in Chapter 5 and Fodor’s atomism in Chapter 6 – I turn to their similarity-based alternatives, that is the prototype and exemplar views. As a necessary starting point, I briefly examine the relevant theoretical foundation, that is the very notion of similarity in which these approaches are grounded. My specific aim in this chapter is to demonstrate why the exemplar approach can be legitimately thought of as qualitatively different from other approaches under consideration, and secondly, to provide a strong footing for the claim – hopefully to be borne out by future interdisciplinary empirical research – that the exemplar approach shows promise for overcoming the diagnosed shortcomings of the rival views. Accordingly, the convention of this closing part of my work is largely that of research postulates and sketching out further prospects.

As should already be clear, this concluding chapter is not intended as a comprehensive analysis or even detailed presentation of the similarity-based accounts of categorisation. It should be kept in mind that especially the general topic of prototypes constitutes a diversified subject area, extending beyond the topic of concepts and important to many fields of Cognitive Science224. In particular, the prototype theory of...

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