January 23, 2013

The format concepts don't need to have



The case of behavioural research regarding feature listing:

In one typical experiment, participants produce a feature more or less often depending on whether it is unoccluded or not, respectively (see Wu, L.L. , 1995 for original description). So, suppose participants produce the feature seed less often when they are presented with the nouns such as watermelon than when they are presented with the noun phrases such as half watermelon (in this case, a ‘revealing modifier’ has been added). From this result, it has been claimed that participants re-enact previously perceived experiences and take longer to report features occluded because there are larger regions to simulate. 

Possible objection
This evidence can be easily accommodated by views of conceptual representations that do not reduce to perceptual or motor simulations. – If so, then it may be relevant to ask the following question:

“What sort of tacit knowledge might be included in the case of thoughts about WATERMENLON and in the case of thoughts about HALF WATERMELON?”

Or else, it could be the case that knowledge structures (elsewhere, semantic networks) involving concepts EAT and BUY, for example, tend to be inferred easier (and faster) in one case than in the other. If so, it seems reasonable to expect the occurrence of inferential pathways in which the feature seed is more likely to occur than not.


Other objections to the PSS hypothesis:

Barbara Landau:
Barsalou is right in arguing that perception has been unduly neglected in theories of concept formation, but his theory is weaker than the classical empiricist hypothesis about the relationship between sensations, perception, and concepts. It provides no principled basis for choosing the elementary components of perception which will form the building blocks of concepts. The classical theory assumed that the atoms were those sensory impressions defined by the structure of the sense organs as they interact with the physics of the world. – Operating on these were processes of association and reflection […] The advantage of such system was its principled nature and its clear circumscription of what could be the elementary components of a compositional system.

Stellan Ohlsson: 
(Selecting is not abstracting)
Just as in the case of empiricists theories of knowledge (i.e. that people derive knowledge from experience), Barsalou’s theory can’t explain abstract concepts, i.e. concepts for which instances do not share perceptible features (e.g. furniture) or for which there are no relevant percepts (e.g. the end of time).

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