Relationship between concepts and language

The relationship between language and disease concepts.

relationship between concepts and language

possibilities for the relationship between words and concepts. The first is that the words of a language do effectively reveal much of the stock of general-purpose. Literature, the art of thinking and language, creatively discloses the meaning of. "Classical Theory of Concepts". Concept simultaneously translated in several languages and meanings; TED-Ed Lesson on.

But modern versions of RTM assume that much thought is not grounded in mental images.

relationship between concepts and language

The classic contemporary treatment maintains, instead, that the internal system of representation has a language-like syntax and a compositional semantics. According to this view, much of thought is grounded in word-like mental representations. This view is often referred to as the language of thought hypothesis Fodor However, the analogy with language isn't perfect; obviously, the internal symbol system must lack many of the properties associated with a natural language.

In addition, the content of a complex symbol is supposed to be a function of its syntactic structure and the contents of its constituents.

relationship between concepts and language

The mental representation view of concepts is the default position in cognitive science Pinker and enjoys widespread support in the philosophy of mind, particularly among philosophers who view their work as being aligned with research in cognitive science e. They maintain that concepts and structured mental representations play a crucial role in accounting for the productivity of thought i.

Critics of this view argue that it is possible to have propositional attitudes without having the relevant mental representations tokened in one's head. Daniel Dennettfor example, argues that most people believe zebras don't wear overcoats in the wild—and a million other similar facts—even though they have never stopped to consider such matters.

Dennett also notes that computing systems can lack representations corresponding to the explanations we cite in characterizing and predicting their behavior.

For example, it may make perfect sense to say of a chess-playing computer that it thinks that it is good to get one's queen out early, even though we know from how the computer is programmed that it has no representation with that very content see Dennettfor these and related criticisms and Fodor for a response. Rather, concepts are abilities that are peculiar to cognitive agents e. The concept CAT, for example, might amount to the ability to discriminate cats from non-cats and to draw certain inferences about cats.

One of the most influential arguments along these lines claims that mental representations are explanatorily idle because they reintroduce the very sorts of problems they are supposed to explain. For example, Michael Dummett cautions against trying to explain knowledge of a first language on the model of knowledge of a second language. In the case of a second language, it is reasonable to suppose that understanding the language involves translating its words and sentences into words and sentences of one's first language.

But according to Dummett, one can't go on to translate words and sentences of one's first language into a prior mental language. In other words, the mental representation itself is just another item whose significance bears explaining. Either we are involved in a vicious regress, having to invoke yet another layer of representation and so on indefinitely or we might as well stop with the external language and explain its significance directly.

Not surprisingly, critics of the abilities view argue in the other direction. They note difficulties that the abilities view inherits by its rejection of mental representations. One is that the view is ill-equipped to explain the productivity of thought; another is that it can say little about mental processes.

And if proponents of the abilities view remain neutral about the existence of mental representations, they open themselves to the criticism that explication of these abilities is best given in terms of underlying mental representations and processes see Fodor and Chomsky for general discussion of the anti-intellectualist tradition in the philosophy of mind.

Concepts are said to be the constituents of propositions. For proponents of this view, concepts mediate between thought and language, on the one hand, and referents, on the other. Similarly, the same referent can be associated with different expressions e. Senses are more discriminating than referents.

Each sense has a unique perspective on its referent—a unique mode of presentation.

relationship between concepts and language

Differences in cognitive content trace back to differences in modes of presentation. Philosophers who take concepts to be senses particularly emphasize this feature of senses. Christopher Peacocke, for example, locates the subject matter of a theory of concepts as follows: In other words, C and D embody differing modes of presentation. To avoid terminological confusion, we should note that Frege himself did not use the term "concept" for senses, but rather for the referents of predicates.

Similarly, it is worth noting that Frege uses the term "thought" to stand for propositions, so for Frege thoughts are not psychological states at all. The view that concepts are Fregean senses, like the abilities view, is generally held by philosophers who are opposed to identifying concepts with mental representations.

Peacocke himself doesn't go so far as to argue that mental representations are explanatorily idle, but he does think that mental representations are too fine-grained for philosophical purposes.

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He is also concerned that identifying concepts with mental representations rules out the possibility of there being concepts that human beings have never entertained, or couldn't ever entertain. If we accept that a thinker's possession of a concept must be realized by some subpersonal state involving a mental representation, why not say simply that the concept is the mental representation?

Just this proposal is made by Margolis and Laurence Mental representations that are concepts could even be typed by the corresponding possession condition of the sort I favour. This seems to me an entirely legitimate notion of a kind of mental representation; but it is not quite the notion of a concept. It can, for instance, be true that there are concepts human beings may never acquire, because of their intellectual limitations, or because the sun will expand to eradicate human life before humans reach a stage at which they can acquire these concepts.

If concepts are individuated by their possession conditions, on the other hand, there is no problem about the existence of concepts that will never be acquired. They are simply concepts whose possession conditions will never be satisfied by any thinkers. Critics of the sense-based view have questioned the utility of appealing to such abstract objects Quine One difficulty stems from the fact that senses, as abstract entities, stand outside of the causal realm.

The question then is how we can access these objects. But grasping here is just a metaphor for a cognitive relation that needs to be explicated. Moreover, though senses are hypothesized as providing different modes of presentation for referents, it is not clear why senses themselves do not generate the mode of presentation problem Fodor Since they are external to our minds, just as referents typically are, it isn't clear why we can't stand in different epistemic relations towards them just as we can to referents.

In the same way that we can have different modes of presentation for a number the only even prime, the sum of one and one, Tim's favorite number, etc. Stepping back from the details of these three views, there is no reason, in principle, why the different views of concepts couldn't be combined in various ways.

For instance, one might maintain that concepts are mental representations that are typed in terms of the Fregean senses they express. For this reason alone, it's fair to wonder whether the dispute about ontology is a substantive dispute. However, the participants in the dispute don't generally view it as a terminological one. Perhaps this is because they associate their own theories of concepts with large-scale commitments about the way that philosophers should approach the study of mind and language.

Undoubtedly, from Dummett's perspective, philosophers who embrace the mental representation view also embrace RTM, and RTM, as he sees it, is fundamentally misguided. Likewise, from Fodor's perspective, RTM is critical to the study of the mind, so an approach like Dummett's, which disallows RTM, places inappropriate a priori constraints on the study of the mind.

These differences in perspective remain present once a more fine-grained terminology is adopted. Previously, these issues would have found expression by posing the question of whether concepts are mental representations. However, if we adopt the proposed new terminology, much the same set of issues would arise concerning the nature and existence of the various more fine-grained categories—concepts1, concepts2, and concepts3. The structure of concepts Just as thoughts are composed of more basic, word-sized concepts, so these word-sized concepts—known as lexical concepts—are generally thought to be composed of even more basic concepts.

According to the classical theory, a lexical concept C has definitional structure in that it is composed of simpler concepts that express necessary and sufficient conditions for falling under C. According to the classical theory, lexical concepts generally will exhibit this same sort of definitional structure.

Before turning to other theories of conceptual structure, it's worth pausing to see what's so appealing about classical or definitional structure. Much of its appeal comes from the way it offers unified treatments of concept acquisition, categorization, and reference determination. In each case, the crucial work is being done by the very same components.

Concept acquisition can be understood as a process in which new complex concepts are created by assembling their definitional constituents. Categorization can be understood as a psychological process in which a complex concept is matched to a target item by checking to see if each and every one of its definitional constituents applies to the target. And reference determination, we've already seen, is a matter of whether the definitional constituents do apply to the target.

These considerations alone would be enough to show why the classical theory has been held in such high regard. But the classical theory receives further motivation through its connection with a philosophical method that goes back to antiquity and that continues to exert its influence over contemporary thought. This is the method of conceptual analysis.

Paradigmatic conceptual analyses offer definitions of concepts that are to be tested against potential counterexamples that are identified via thought experiments. Conceptual analysis is supposed to be a distinctively a priori activity that many take to be the essence of philosophy.

To the extent that paradigmatic conceptual analyses are available and successful, this will convey support for the classical theory. At around 8 years, children begin to tie together emotions, motivations and story events from a more global perspective, orienting their listeners more clearly to the narrative whole.

At all times, however, references to emotions here as ascriptions to others function to construct a particular perspective that links or transfixes actions that would otherwise be seen as unmotivated and therefore as unconnected. At this point, the critique could be launched that this function is typical but specific to discourse about third- persons, of which the picture book narration is yet another specific case.

Thus, in order to decide more conclusively whether the established audience function of emotion terms is unique for accounts from a third-person vantage point, we turned to emotion talk that was conducted from a first- person point of view. References to emotions in first-person accounts In the following I will draw on an investigation in which we asked American-English-speaking children to tell emotion experiences from two different perspectives.

Thus, with both elicitation questions children were required to "report" concrete, personally experienced incidents of so-called "emotion experiences".

Concepts (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

In response to the first question, they were supposed to present the experience from the perspective of the "I" as undergoer where "the other" is to be constructed as the causal agentwhile the second question asked them to place the "I" in the role of the causal agent who instigated the emotion experience leaving "the other" to be constructed as the undergoer.

The first finding of this investigation reported in detail in Bamberg in press a, in press b consisted of two quite different profiles in the responses to the two different elicitation questions: Presentations of I as causal agent [and other as undergoer] for anger-scenarios were typically done by construing the I as inagentive, and the other as vague and de-individualized e. Further, the whole incident was presented in terms of a probable appearance by use of modality markers such as could, might, probably, or maybe or as a plain accident.

Examples 1 through 3 illustrate such construals: The other was kept in subject position, while the I occupied the direct object slot "me". Often implicit, though not plainly expressed in these constructions were implications that the act was not justified, such as in line 2 of example 5. In general, children seemed to organize the latter type of accounts in sharp contradistinction to the first type of accounts: While the other as undergoer was constructed as inagentive, the I as undergoer was highly agentive; and while the other as causal agent was constructed as highly agentive, the I as causal agent was highly inagentive.

In spite of the fact that the scenario was kept the same "someone does something that causes someone else to become angry"it seems to make a real difference for American children as to who is doing what to whom. Of course, it should be clear that the issue in these two different construction types is the difference in discourse purpose: Construing the other as highly agentive when the I is the undergoer serves the purpose of attributing blame.

The discursive force of this construction type is to align the audience with the person who gives the account, and potentially assist in a possible revenge scheme. In contrast, construing the I as inagentive when the other is the undergoer serves the purpose of saving face: Having been caught in the narrative act of inflicting physical harm on someone else is viewed as less aggravating when it was not fully intended, or at least, when the reasons for "who is to blame" cannot be clearly located.

To summarize, accounts that supposedly report one's own feelings and emotions as caused by others or that report someone else's emotions as caused by the same person who is doing the reporting are fashioned for different discursive purposes.

Grounded in these different purposes, the reports themselves gain their specific linguistic structure; none of them is "more real", "more true" or "less constructed" than the others. The way other and I are linguistically positioned with regard to one another at the plane of character construction cannot be viewed any longer as the linguistic re-presentation of events the way they "happened". The differences in positions with regard to how the characters were aligned as well as with regard to the local moral order vis-a-vis the audience were washed out.

The discursive purposes that hold for first-person accounts are clearly different from those that require the narrator to take the perspective of a generalized other, with third-person accounts leaving open different perspectives to chose from.

Again, we elicited their accounts from three different actor-perspectives first-person, third-person, and generalized other perspectivethough here I will only touch upon their first-person accounts and summarize the more general conclusions and insights that we drew from this study.

The following three accounts are typical answers to the elicitating question "Can you tell me about a time when you felt both sad and angry examples 6 and 8 [happy and sad example 7 ] at the same time? Older children, and, more typically, young adults, who generally are more apt to construct dual emotion accounts, nevertheless seem to find it more difficult to coordinate two "simultaneous" perspectives on "anger" and "fear", which are actually two emotions of the same valence.

More relevant for the present purpose, examples 6 through 8 document clearly how narrators are employing linguistic means construction types to bring about the framing or "illusion"? Apart from the different temporal reference points "was sad" versus "am angry"the narrator in example 6 employs the aspectual unboundedness of leaving to contrast with the aspectual boundedness of left, resulting in two different vantage points from which the same happening is being "perspectivized".

The same perspectivization is constructed in example 7: The state description of "being dead" is contrasted with the process of an activity that linguistically construes a syntactic subject with its semantic role of a potential agent. In both examples, these differences in construction types impact on how the speakers seem to index their stance with regard to agency and responsibility: States and agentless happenings typically result in "sadness", with no animate agent to blame, while situations that evoke "anger" are more likely the results of willful, intentional actions brought about by animate others.

Example 8 illustrates a similar technique of event construal, here by use of two different perspectives on the situation of transitioning from high-school to college. While both predicates construct this situation by use of motion verbs, leaving focuses on the source, keeping the telos unspecified, and thereby orienting the audience with regard to the transition from home to college in a backward fashion.

In contrast, going keeps the source unspecified, and focuses on the telos of the motion. In this way, this construction orients forward, toward a future reference point. Simultaneously, the telic orientation of going in this example construes a more agentive perspective for the transition event, thereby setting up the contrast to the less agentive perspective for the act of leaving.

Though the contrast between these two construction types does not foreground as clearly as in the previous two examples who is responsible and blameworthy as in "anger"and what happened agentlessly and by "accident" for "sadness"the leaving perspective chosen for the event construal in example 8 nevertheless resembles the inagentive construction type that is typical for sadness accounts from third- and first-person perspectives.

The discussion of the examples is oriented to extrapolate two related points, one holding for the assumption of "having two emotions simultaneously", the second for "having emotions" in general. The first is meant to address the production of the appearance - or, if one prefers: The accounts given for situations of two simultaneously existing emotions are linguistically constructed from two different perspectives, perspectives that are not existent or available a priori and outside of language.

In other words, the ability to linguistically take different perspectives for different discursive purposes! Or, put more strongly, this discourse ability to take different perspectives on events, and to hold these perspectives concurrently, is the basic constituent out of which conceptual impressions such as "having two emotions simultaneously" are made of.

Consequently, this linguistic ability cannot be seen as being derived from two "actual" feeling constellations that are simultaneously "experienced", such as the simultaneous feelings of anger and sadness. Rather, these so-called "feeling states" are the products of conceptual framing, which in turn are the products of the linguistic ability to take perspectives.

If we accept that "having two emotions simultaneously" cannot be derived from the composite of two concurrent feeling states, or from the overlap of two emotion concepts applied to one situation conceptbut that it is the product of the linguistic ability to view a situation for two discursive purposes, we may be forced to apply this insight also to how references to single emotions are maintained and achieved. We will follow this argument in a more elaborated fashion in the concluding section section 3.

However, let me recall briefly here that Trabasso and Steinwho came to the same conviction, namely that reports of so-called double-emotions two simultaneously occurring feeling states are retrospective accounts of what might have actually taken place sequentially rather than at the same timeargue along similar lines, namely that it is the verbal account that 'gives rise to the illusion' of the actual possibility of holding more than one emotion at the same time see endnote 4 above.

Confusing "sad" and "angry" - a case for genre in the appropriation of emotions 2. Introduction to the study In this section I want to present in more detail than in the previous sections a study in which children's responses to the two questions of "being sad" and "being angry" are compared across the four age groups.

While primarily being concerned with accounts given in the first person the genre of personal, past experienceswe will consider some features of accounts of the same situations given in the generalized person perspective the genre of explanatory discourse. To briefly recall the elicitation conditions, the first person accounts were responses to the question: First, it really seems to be of importance to convey a sense of methodology, i. Thus, the methodological pursuit in the studies summarized thus far and presented in more detail next is not simply focusing on a different "level of analysis" when compared with the frameworks of Wierzbicka and Stein presented in section 1 above.

Rather, it starts from some rather different assumptions and leads to different insights, some of them compatible, while others may be not. Second, it is deemed to be of utmost importance to give the reader some better insights into the actual nature of how constructionism "constructs" the building blocks out of which social and individual constructs are made.

The relationship between language and disease concepts.

Thus, in the following we will specify in considerably more detail what processes are at work when emotions are given meaning. In particular, we will turn to linguistic, grammatical analyses to show how intricate the building blocks are interwoven and embedded in social practices.

Third, the following study is explicitly developmental, and therefore in its very nature can reveal interesting insights into how the child here the American English-speaking puts together language, thought, and emotion in the act of communication. This, in turn, can lead to improve our theoretical considerations with regard to the relationship between language, cognition, and emotion. Actually, this particular investigation originally was stimulated by an accidental, though intriguing observation that we stumbled across in the process of data elicitation: When asking the children ranging from preschoolers to 3rd-graders a battery of 12 consecutive questions, all revolving around 'having been angry, sad, scared, and happy', we repeatedly heard some of the children maintaining that one or another question had already been answered.

Looking closer at where this happened, we realized that these kinds of confusions occurred solely with questions regarding angry and sad, but never with any of the other ones.

In addition, when we asked these children to give us an answer anyway, most often, the accounts given were word-for-word repetitions. Furthermore, it appeared as if these "confusions" only occurred in response to the first-person questions: Can you tell me what happened that day? These observations, although based on very preliminary evidence, nevertheless seemed to us intriguing enough to follow up with the investigation into the question of whether or not there is actually any support for the assumption that American English-speaking children might at an early age confuse the two emotions anger and sadness.

And if this turns out to be the case, it should be determined, whether this confusion is more typical for any of the different genres under consideration. However, Stein and her associates also point to the similarities between anger and sadness in that both emotions are typically evoked by the same goal outcome patterns, i.

With regard to other sources that report a potential fusion or confusion of anger and sadness, I could only locate some spattered hints in linguistic and anthropological reports about a number of African languages which, at least at the lexical level, do not seem to draw a distinctive line between what in English is divided into anger and sadness.

Drawing on reports by Davitz and Leff as their sources, Heelas and Matsumoto maintain a similar opinion, namely that "some African languages have one word that covers what the English language suggests are two emotions - anger and sadness Leff, Likewise, Lutz suggests that the Ifaluk word song can be described sometimes as anger and sometimes as sadness" Matsumuto In addition, Heelas argues that "English- speaking Ugandans do not distinguish between 'sadness' and 'anger', as we do crying being an important feature of our distinction but not for Ugandans " It remains unclear from the reports, what aspects actually are expressed in Swahili, and what supposedly might lead bilingual Swahili speakers to use only one English lexical expression for covering both meanings of English sad and anger.

Actually, the literature reported does not even say which English expression is used, angry or sad. Another interesting observation that points in the same direction stems from Fischer's investigation of how Dutch speakers make sense of the Dutch equivalent to 'anger'.

In evaluations of the emotion 'anger', Dutch adult subjects displayed two different attitudes according to where the incident that led to the emotion took place: However, they want to show commitment to others by expressing their anger. In public situations, on the other hand, one is far more concerned with how others will evaluate one's anger and so the anger seems primarily to be used as device to maintain or improve one's position" Fischer This observation leads to an interesting speculation with regard to a differential in functionality of these two different evaluative stances: The expression of anger in public settings is more likely to be valued as negative, while its expression in private settings is argued to be geared toward some more positive ends.

Considering further, that children in their language acquisition process have to learn to sort out these components, it may be very possible that they might go through phases of confusing certain components in certain situations. Thus, a closer look at the different kinds of situations where emotion talk is used for potentially different purposes might be exactly the route to travel to find out.

Subjects, Data Elicitation, and Coding Since we will report in this section the data for all four age groups, let me briefly summarize the subject population, the elicitation technique used, as well as the ways the data were transcribed and coded.

Subjects The participants of the study reported in this section were 80 children from four grades with 20 children each: Although all subjects were from the same regional area in Massachusetts, USA, the school populations varied. The preschool and kindergarten children attended primarily middle-class schools, whereas the first and third graders attended a racially and economically diverse school.

The mean ages for each group were: In order to be a participant in the study, the children had to meet four criteria: First, the child's parent had to give permission as well as the child at the time of the interview. Second, the child could not have any diagnosed language or learning impairments.

What is Linguistics? - Definition and Branches of Linguistics

Third, the children needed to be fluent speakers of English. Finally, the children had to finish the interview by giving answers to most of the questions. Data Elicitation The interviewers for this study were trained so that the children were tested using a consistent format. All interviews occurred at the schools but in separate areas away from the regular classrooms. Each session was tape-recorded for the purpose of later transcription.

relationship between concepts and language

The interview consisted of 12 questions encompassing three genres on four topics: The topics consisted of emotion situations: Thus, the questions asked in the interview took the following forms: All 12 questions were administered to each child in random order, with the only two restrictions to start each interview with genre iand to avoid asking two questions about the same topic in a row. Transcription and Coding Following the transcription format laid out by Berman, Slobin, Bamberg, Dromi, Marchman, Neeman, Renner and Sebastianall verbal responses were transcribed in clauses, giving each individual clause a new line.

Since it had been mentioned in previous studies that anger and sadness differ particularly in terms of actor involvement transitive versus intransitive acts and type of action intentional versus accidental, and justified versus unjustwe determined to develop categories that would tap those dimensions.

Accordingly, the transcripts were coded along the following dimensions: Although these clauses by their very nature rank lower in transitivity, particularly since they seem to place emphasis on states or results of actions eg. However, the rating for transitivity turned out to be much more difficult. In actuality, the medium category was the hardest to determine, while deciding whether clauses fell into the high versus the low transitivity category seemed to be more of a clear cut case.

On the basis of this, we made the coding decision to use the medium category as little as possible. In other words, the raters were asked to enforce wherever possible a 'high' versus a 'low' ranking, and only in cases where there was absolutely no easy choice, the mid-level category was to be used. It should be noted that contrary to most introductory methods books, the codes applied in this as in most other studies are not strictly speaking hypotheses.

In this way, universals were explained as transcendent objects. Needless to say this form of realism was tied deeply with Plato's ontological projects. This remark on Plato is not of merely historical interest. For him, the sense of an expression in language describes a certain state of affairs in the world, namely, the way that some object is presented.

Since many commentators view the notion of sense as identical to the notion of concept, and Frege regards senses as the linguistic representations of states of affairs in the world, it seems to follow that we may understand concepts as the manner in which we grasp the world.

Accordingly, concepts as senses have an ontological status Morgolis: According to Carl Benjamin Boyerin the introduction to his The History of the Calculus and its Conceptual Development, concepts in calculus do not refer to perceptions.

As long as the concepts are useful and mutually compatible, they are accepted on their own. For example, the concepts of the derivative and the integral are not considered to refer to spatial or temporal perceptions of the external world of experience. Neither are they related in any way to mysterious limits in which quantities are on the verge of nascence or evanescence, that is, coming into or going out of existence.

The abstract concepts are now considered to be totally autonomous, even though they originated from the process of abstracting or taking away qualities from perceptions until only the common, essential attributes remained.

Mental representation In a physicalist theory of minda concept is a mental representation, which the brain uses to denote a class of things in the world. This is to say that it is literally, a symbol or group of symbols together made from the physical material of the brain. Evidence for this separation comes from hippocampal damaged patients such as patient HM.