Mandler, J. M. (2008). On the birth and growth of concepts.
Philosophical Psychology, 21, 207-230.
This article describes what the earliest concepts are like and presents a theory of the
spatial primitives from which they are formed. The earliest concepts tend to be global,
like animal and container, and it is hypothesized that they consist of simplified
redescriptions of innately salient spatial information. These redescriptions become
associated with sensory and other bodily experiences that are not themselves
redescribed, but that enrich conceptual thought. The initial conceptual base becomes
expanded through subdivision, sometimes aided by language that points up these
divisions or suggests new spatial analyses, and by analogical extension of spatially
derived concepts to nonspatial domains. This formulation is contrasted with Fodor's
(1998) metaphysical theory of concept formation.
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