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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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Preliminary remarks


In the first part of this work, I consider questions related to the perspective of study. Chapter 1 is devoted in full to the presentation of Cognitive Science – including but substantially exceeding cognitive linguistics as its specific subfield – and to discussing the vantage point that it provides for the study of language. In my exposition of Cognitive Science, I begin with identifying its guiding theoretical assumptions and tracking down its historical roots, before sketching out its contemporary picture. In order to supply an externalised theoretical perspective, I examine several lines of criticism against Cognitive Science; in particular, I discuss the hazards of interdisciplinarity, and the reasons for which they are outweighed by its benefits.

The function of the second chapter is to demonstrate the validity and robustness of the mentalistic/internalistic perspective that lies at the heart of Cognitive Science. The character of this part of my thesis is primarily philosophical, bringing into focus metatheoretical issues indigenous to the fields of philosophy of language and philosophy of mind. I diagnose the reasons for the historically dominant character of the alternative view on the ontological status of language and the methods of its study, while not failing to notice the complementary rather than rivalling character of those two approaches. Finally, I critically address the position known as externalism regarding conceptual content. The specific sub-goal of this part of my work is a rebuttal of Hilary Putnam’s thought experiment, which provides the chief motivation for the anti-cognitivist consequences of...

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