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You only get one of them. Cursed you seem, in certain moods. You are a man and not a woman, or a woman and not a man. You were born one person rather than two, or many. You are alive now instead of then.

You move behind the time, like a clock continually losing seconds, and despair. Our acceptable philosophy is eudaemonistic hedonism. It says: we act, and choose, and react, by an insatiable hunger for pleasure, and this is to be adjusted, very reasonably, by an educated taste for happiness. Happiness is a vague bliss. Sunny and sociable, it considers the well-being of family and friends, while ordinary pleasure is immediate and private. The flaw of this philosophy, however, is that neither happiness nor pleasure can be put into reality directly.

Pleasure, like pain, will be unmemorable if it exists only as immediate sensation. Experience is directly attainable. It is definite and cumulative, when happiness is ambiguous and pleasure evanescent. But some urge compels us to answer. Sometimes the method follows from the goal, as religious obedience followed a God who paid attention. Face-to-face with the shortcomings of more respectable goals, we have turned large tracts of our method of life over to experience—unwittingly. A chair at a Scottish university still bears the title although held now by a psychologist of distinction, who of course does not believe in phrenology.

Concepts frequently develop by grouping a series of phenomena about a single striking instance and then assigning a name.


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At times several men separately recognize that certain functions belong together and then someone has an intuition that gives the idea a new more effective turn. This is well illustrated by the development of the notion of intelligence.

The concept of poverty.

Galton thought it should be possible to discover tests for capacity and devised many that were successful in isolation. Cattell and his students in America added other tests. The tests lacked unity of statement and were not extensively applied. Binet hit upon the idea of comparing the intelligence of adults and others with the average accomplishment of children of each age. He gave the name mental age to the product and it appealed at once and was accepted universally. He modified the educational methods in all countries. Some of his tests had been used in isolation for a long time, but bringing them together under the new term and the practical application increased their value and the appeal.

Binet made intelligence a concept of wide use.

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After Binet wrote, Spearman sought to find the minimum number of concepts required by psychology. First he made a survey of all of the concepts that had been suggested to interpret man's behavior by different writers throughout the ages. He found them all inadequate. He then turned to a statistical examination of the results of many tests, subjecting them to an ingenious method of cross correlation.

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The outcome proved to him that all activities could be reduced to two factors. Since all tests show a correlation one capacity must be present in all.

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That factor he designated as G. He speaks of it as being related to mental energy and to general capacity. In addition to the G factor he recognizes limited abilities that are active in special problems. The most comprehensive of these is the verbal factor or language ability. It is much narrower than G and may show independent correlations with it. Less specific are a numbers factor, related to a science factor, and the symbol X applied to the combination.

Third is a practical factor that shows in shop work and its tests. The specific factors seem not so clearly defined as G, but leave room for individual variation. G and the S's together are the concepts that may represent the activities of any individual. Thurstone has applied different series of tests and a different mathematical computation to determine de novo the concepts that are needed to state human capacities. He, too, started from the assumption that concepts could be detected in tests constructed with no theoretical prejudices as to what were primary-.

Thurstone's results differed from Spearman's most strikingly in that he found no general factor that affected the efficiency in all of the tests. Some of his factors overlap on or approximate Spearman's special factors. He names a verbal or language factor, a numbers factor, a space factor, and mentions others that are less definite.

These factors differ in range, but it is a difference in degree not in an all or none relationship. Thurstone, like Spearman in discussing his S factors, does not commit himself very far as to limits of his factors, nor does he assign specific functions in daily life nor a definite name. They are products of a statistical analysis and are left almost anonymous. As compared with some concepts suggested by insight, the lack of name and definiteness in use reduce the likelihood of general acceptance even in technical psychology.

With time they may be used more and names and practical functions may be assigned them. They have the advantage over traditional concepts of a statistical warrant, and their reliability may be indicated by standard deviations. A second instance of the application of concepts in psychology is offered by the classification of mental diseases. The physician speaks of disease entities as if they were definite groups of symptoms and pathological physical changes that have real existence. The psychiatrist or the general physician, before there were psychiatrists, recognized abnormal behavior, as in Shakespeare's mind diseased.

They were grouped on the basis of the most prominent symptoms. Kraepelin, a student of Wundt, in the late nineteenth century, developed a classification based on symptoms, on the usual course of the disease, and the physical abnormalities, if any. With a few changes in names, Kraepelin's classification is still the basis of modern diagnosis.

The implication is that each concept represents a real disease, although the physical causes are in many cases not known. In practice the names have the advantage of the concept in general of indicating the probable behavior of the patient in different conditions, of making a prognosis, and suggesting treatment if any is available. All admit that there is a considerable range of uncertainty in each respect.

Adolf Meyer and some of his colleagues criticized attempts at classification, because of this wide diversity. They felt that each case was unique and should be studied for itself and not treated in the mass. It is true that there is difficulty in distinguishing some diseases, as depressed schizophrenia from melancholia. The form-. Treatment based on a wrong diagnosis might be dangerous.

Dealing with a patient as an individual and not as one of a class, is more flexible. On the other hand convenience dictates the classification, and allowances can be made for the wide diversity of symptoms and outcomes in each case. The study of concepts in psychology shows their omnipresence.

Two main functions can be ascribed to concepts, a classification and unification of particulars and the development of standards that are more reliable than any particular. The combination or classification takes at least three forms. First, different perceptions of the same object are never twice the same.

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Shades vary, sizes vary with the distance, and forms change with direction of vision. A child probably needs practice in seeing that the object is the same. Within the framework of the representational theory of mind , the structural position of concepts can be understood as follows: Concepts serve as the building blocks of what are called mental representations colloquially understood as ideas in the mind. Mental representations, in turn, are the building blocks of what are called propositional attitudes colloquially understood as the stances or perspectives we take towards ideas, be it "believing", "doubting", "wondering", "accepting", etc.

And these propositional attitudes, in turn, are the building blocks of our understanding of thoughts that populate everyday life, as well as folk psychology. In this way, we have an analysis that ties our common everyday understanding of thoughts down to the scientific and philosophical understanding of concepts.

A central question in the study of concepts is the question of what they are. Philosophers construe this question as one about the ontology of concepts — what they are like. The ontology of concepts determines the answer to other questions, such as how to integrate concepts into a wider theory of the mind, what functions are allowed or disallowed by a concept's ontology, etc. There are two main views of the ontology of concepts: 1 Concepts are abstract objects, and 2 concepts are mental representations.

Platonist views of the mind construe concepts as abstract objects, [7]. There is debate as to the relationship between concepts and natural language. Study of concepts and conceptual structure falls into the disciplines of linguistics , philosophy , psychology , and cognitive science. In the simplest terms, a concept is a name or label that regards or treats an abstraction as if it had concrete or material existence, such as a person, a place, or a thing.

It may represent a natural object that exists in the real world like a tree, an animal, a stone, etc. It may also name an artificial man-made object like a chair, computer, house, etc. Abstract ideas and knowledge domains such as freedom, equality, science, happiness, etc. It is important to realize that a concept is merely a symbol, a representation of the abstraction. The word is not to be mistaken for the thing.

For example, the word "moon" a concept is not the large, bright, shape-changing object up in the sky, but only represents that celestial object. Concepts are created named to describe, explain and capture reality as it is known and understood.

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Kant maintained the view that human minds possess pure or a priori concepts. Instead of being abstracted from individual perceptions, like empirical concepts, they originate in the mind itself. He called these concepts categories , in the sense of the word that means predicate , attribute, characteristic, or quality. But these pure categories are predicates of things in general , not of a particular thing. According to Kant, there are twelve categories that constitute the understanding of phenomenal objects. Each category is that one predicate which is common to multiple empirical concepts.

In order to explain how an a priori concept can relate to individual phenomena, in a manner analogous to an a posteriori concept, Kant employed the technical concept of the schema. He held that the account of the concept as an abstraction of experience is only partly correct. He called those concepts that result from abstraction "a posteriori concepts" meaning concepts that arise out of experience. An empirical or an a posteriori concept is a general representation Vorstellung or non-specific thought of that which is common to several specific perceived objects Logic , I, 1.

A concept is a common feature or characteristic. Kant investigated the way that empirical a posteriori concepts are created. In order to make our mental images into concepts, one must thus be able to compare, reflect, and abstract, for these three logical operations of the understanding are essential and general conditions of generating any concept whatever. For example, I see a fir, a willow, and a linden. In firstly comparing these objects, I notice that they are different from one another in respect of trunk, branches, leaves, and the like; further, however, I reflect only on what they have in common, the trunk, the branches, the leaves themselves, and abstract from their size, shape, and so forth; thus I gain a concept of a tree.

In cognitive linguistics , abstract concepts are transformations of concrete concepts derived from embodied experience. A common class of blends are metaphors. This theory contrasts with the rationalist view that concepts are perceptions or recollections , in Plato 's term of an independently existing world of ideas, in that it denies the existence of any such realm.

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It also contrasts with the empiricist view that concepts are abstract generalizations of individual experiences, because the contingent and bodily experience is preserved in a concept, and not abstracted away. While the perspective is compatible with Jamesian pragmatism, the notion of the transformation of embodied concepts through structural mapping makes a distinct contribution to the problem of concept formation. Plato was the starkest proponent of the realist thesis of universal concepts. By his view, concepts and ideas in general are innate ideas that were instantiations of a transcendental world of pure forms that lay behind the veil of the physical world.

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. Gottlob Frege , founder of the analytic tradition in philosophy, famously argued for the analysis of language in terms of sense and reference.

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 Boyer , in 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. In a physicalist theory of mind , a concept is a mental representation, which the brain uses to denote a class of things in the world.