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PHIL 12N: Concepts and concept possession

Our thoughts are made up of concepts. If I didn't have the concept of a caterpillar or of love or of a prime number, I couldn't think about caterpillars, love, or prime numbers, respectively. And if I couldn't think about those things then I couldn't talk or sing or make jokes about them, believe or remember anything about them, reason about them, hope or desire or fear anything to do with them¿and so on. But what are concepts? What does it take to have one? And how do we get to do that: what's involved in the acquisition of a concept? Are some concepts innate? To what extent can empirical psychology help improve our understanding of concepts? How are concepts related to natural language? What counts as concept change? And how is it possible for concepts to 'reach out' and be about aspects of the world (e.g., about caterpillars, love or prime numbers)?nnIn this seminar we will explore these and related questions through extensive discussions, reading and writing. There will be a lot of emphasis on active class participation. The reading will include texts in contemporary cognitive science as well as in philosophy of mind.
Last offered: Spring 2019
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