Monday, July 10, 2006

the ontology of concepts

are concepts abstract entities or mental particulars? i don't think this is an interesting question. this is why: in order to trivialize this issue one need simply appeal to a type/token distinction. since, even psychologism-haters such as frege acknowledged that these abstracta must be 'grasped'” or somehow mentally accessed, one can identify concepts with abstract entities and still allow concepts to be tokened in the mind. if someone were to make the further claim that concepts are not mentally accessed, then it seems they have changed the subject or are greatly confused. it appears that one can identify concepts with the concept type (i.e. abstract entity) or the concept token (i.e. mental entity) and nothing of much interest turns on this debate. for theoretical purposes, however, it is perhaps best to identify concepts with the abstract entity. for example, two people can have the concept HORSE, while one has a mental image of a black horse and the other a mental image of a white horse (or perhaps one simply has an associated description of a horse). the worry is that identifying concepts with mental particulars individuates concepts too fine-grained, such that we could not rightly say that any two people posses the same concept. we would require too much if we required that two people share the concept HORSE only if they both think of stallions or they both have memories of being kicked by one on their fifth birthday, etc. clearly there is some mental stuff that differs between the black horse person and the white horse person but it isn't clear that they differ in what concepts they posses. what this brings out is that what we identitfy concepts with depends on what we want out of a theory of concepts...

1 comment:

Remis said...

It seems like to already read this one:

anyway, I'm currently working in this subject... feel free to contcat me if you feel like talking about this subject is a good idea :-)

take care