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Words and Images An Essay on the Origin of Ideas,9780199599462
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Words and Images An Essay on the Origin of Ideas



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Oxford University Press
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  • Words and Images An Essay on the Origin of Ideas
    Words and Images An Essay on the Origin of Ideas


At least since Locke, philosophers and psychologists have usually held that concepts arise out of sensory perceptions, thoughts are built from concepts, and language enables speakers to convey their thoughts to hearers. Christopher Gauker holds that this tradition is mistaken about both concepts and language. The mind cannot abstract the building blocks of thoughts from perceptual representations. More generally, we have no account of the origin of concepts that grants them therequisite independence from language. Gauker's alternative is to show that much of cognition consists in thinking by means of mental imagery, without the help of concepts, and that language is a tool by which interlocutors coordinate their actions in pursuit of shared goals. Imagistic cognition supportsthe acquisition and use of this tool, and when the use of this tool is internalized, it becomes the very medium of conceptual thought.

Author Biography

Christopher Gauker is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cincinnati. He works in both the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind. His prior books include Words without Meaning (2003) and Conditionals in Context (2005).

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xi
Introduction: Defining the Questionp. 1
What are concepts?p. 2
Philosophers versus psychologistsp. 10
My thesesp. 13
Some disclaimersp. 14
The Lockean Theoryp. 17
The composition theoryp. 19
Abstraction-as- subtractionp. 24
Abstraction-as-representationp. 28
Concepts as the building blocks of judgmentsp. 31
Contemporary Lockeansp. 33
A recent version of the composition theory: Roschp. 33
A contemporary version of abstraction-as-subtraction:Mandlerp. 36
A contemporary version of abstraction-as-representation:Prinzp. 40
A collection of problemsp. 45
Appendix: Locke as trope theoristp. 46
The Kantian Theoryp. 50
Kant's own theoryp. 50
Evidence for this interpretationp. 53
Why we cannot be Kantians todayp. 56
Are concepts embedded in perception?p. 59
A Kantian in contemporary psychology: Barsaloup. 65
A Kantian in contemporary philosophy: McDowellp. 70
McDowell's Kant interpretationp. 71
McDowell on the justification of belief through perceptionp. 75
The lessonsp. 79
Appendix: Analysis as the representation of synthesisp. 79
Regions of Similarity Spacep. 86
Churchland and Gardenforsp. 89
Is the theory inevitable?p. 93
An empirical challengep. 96
Why judgments cannot be built from regionsp. 99
Learning about individualsp. 100
Learning about kindsp. 102
Modal distinctionsp. 105
Learning through languagep. 106
Complex logical structuresp. 107
Thought without boundariesp. 109
The Sellarsian Theoryp. 112
Sellars's functionalismp. 113
The myth of Jonesp. 122
Perceptionp. 130
Right-wing Sellarsianism: Fodorp. 134
Left-wing Sellarsianism: Brandomp. 138
Imagistic Cognitionp. 145
What are mental images?p. 147
Feats of imaginationp. 149
The analysis of imagistic cognitionp. 151
Perceptual similarity spacep. 151
Object trackingp. 155
Acquired dimensions of perceptual similarity spacep. 157
Imagistic causationp. 161
Animals and babiesp. 163
A brief review of some of the challengesp. 164
Quinn's studies of human infantsp. 171
Savage-Rumbaugh's studies of chimpanzeesp. 174
Similarity without Conceptsp. 184
Some specious objectionsp. 185
Similarity and commonalityp. 187
Imagistic representationp. 192
Mere misperceptionp. 194
Persistent illusionsp. 200
The correspondence between dimensionsp. 203
Contra Tverskyp. 206
The empirical resultsp. 207
The contrast modelp. 209
Gleitman's better explanationp. 211
The remaining resultsp. 215
Cooperation by Means of Wordsp. 217
The paradigm casep. 221
Some further assumptionsp. 224
Goalsp. 224
Varieties of imagistic representationsp. 225
The composition of similaritiesp. 227
Counting demonstrativesp. 228
Production and acceptance of literalsp. 231
Production of atomic sentencesp. 232
Acceptance of atomic sentencesp. 237
Negations of atomic sentencesp. 239
The activation of speech dispositionsp. 242
An interlocutor's take on the contextp. 243
Disjunctionsp. 245
General negationp. 248
Psychologicp. 249
Conditionalsp. 250
Universal quantifiersp. 253
Thinking in Languagep. 256
What is inner speech?p. 257
Conceptual thoughts and verbal imageryp. 257
Consciousness of verbal imageryp. 259
Sentences in thoughtp. 260
Beliefs versus occurrent thoughtsp. 263
Easy answers to cheap shotsp. 265
The utility of intrapersonal discoursep. 273
Semantic normsp. 277
Referencesp. 285
Indexp. 299
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