Treatise on Basic Philosophy vol. 5 – Ultima parte

Chapter 5 – Conceiving 

In psychology a concept is a mental (or brain) process, in philosophy it is a unit construct, or the smalles component of a proposition. In either case concepts are te building blocks of all other ideas (159) 

From percept to concept 

When seeing or imagining a particular animal we say that we forma a percept… on the other hand when thinking of humans in general- e.g. that they can conceive anything- we form a concept of them (158) 

<concept> it is general, and so can bear no resemblance to any individual <though derives partly from our perceptions and memories>. A fortiori the so-called general abstract concepts, such as those of transitivity, entropy, species, mind, or justice, are not similar to their referents even when they have them. In other words, the perceptual representation of a thing is a (partial) function of its (apparent) traits into neural events, that preserves some of the relations among such traits. On the other hand a concept, or conceptual representation, of the same thing is no such a map: it bears no resemblance to its referents, if any (159 / 160) 

Concepts are brain processes (or collection of such) but they do not involve any neurosensors (160) 

The concepts of the empircal kind “derive” from percepts. However, they are not mere distillates or summaries of experience. The coining or learning of a new concept of either kind is a creative process: it consists in the emergence of something new that was not in perception, let alone in the external world (161) 

Any empirical concept can be aroused by any one of the senses (161) 

From stimulus object to percept and from these to empirical concepts (161) 

The transempirical concepts do not originate in perception…but must be acquired by reflection. However, they are not necessarily isolated from all empirical concepts. (161) 

<percepts, empirical and transempirical concepts> form a dynamical cognitive network (161) 

whereas some factual concepts are empirical (e.g. “hot”) others are transempirical (e.g. “temperature”) (163)     



Concept formation 

Discriminating between two objects is a modest cognitive achvivement… invloves taking cognizance of some of their properties. Such cognitive operation is no mere perception: it is a conceptual operation, for it consists in attributing properties. (165) 

A concept of a property is called an attribute or predicate (165) 

On the other hand grouping is a conceptual operation: classes are concepts, not real… natural classes, i.e. a collection whose members are objectively related (169) 

Every time we generalize and every time we build a model of a real thing we disregard certain properties and thus perform a methodological abstraction (173)   



A priori and a posteriori 

Formal and factual propositions. The former are self-sufficient: they do not decribe anything real; the latter decribe (truly or falsy) some (possible or actual) fact(s) (180) 

It does make sense to use the expression ‘a priori’ and ‘a posteriori’, but with the understanding that they give rise to subjective and shifting distinctions… we must relativize it to the knowing subject and his experience, namely thus: (i) construct (concept or proposition) x is a rpiori for subject  y at time z= y has formed x by time z, and y has had no experience relevant to x before z (i.e. y knows x witout resorting to perception). Otherwise x is a posteriori for y at z.; (b) construct x is absolute a priori= x is a priori for any subject at some time. Otherwise x is absolute a posteriori (181) 



Conceptual map 

Percepts tend to cluster into systems that map the body or the environment: tose systems are the perceptual maps…Concepts also tend to organiza into systems (191) 

Conceptual maps summarize and systematize conceptual knowledge (or prejudice) (191) 

Whereas perceptual maps are limited to appearances, conceptual maps may represent reality, i.e. they may be subject-invariant (192) 

Whereas perceptual maps resemble the represeted object, conceptual maps need not hold such a relation of analogy with their objects or referents (193) <conceptual maps are symbolic whereas perceptual maps are to a certain degree iconic> 

Perception gives us only perceptual knowledge, whic is egocentric and limited to appearance. Only conceptual knowledge can be objective and deep: only conceptual knowledge gives us a glimpse of things in themselves. Still, conceptual knowledge is not independent of perception, which sets conception in motion and checks its products (196/7) 

Conceivng is anything but copying: it is a creative process going far beyond perception- which in the higher vertebrates is creative too, partly besause it gets mixed with conception (197) 


Chapter 6 – Inferring 

Every inference is either deductive or nondeductive. The former is demostrative, the latter nondemostrative and at most suggestive (199) 


Natural reasoning 

In all inference we must assume some premises, even if we do not know whether they are true, if only for the sake of argument, in particular to find out whether such assumptions lead to acceptable consequences. This detached attitude is not universal. The natural thing to do is either to accept or to reject a premise rather than to examine it with a purely cognitive concern (200) 

Children go through two stages with regard to argument: quarrelling and argumentation proper. The former consists in a clash of views, and it is the mental equivalent of fightinig (200) 

Human tinking, far from being sequential, in that it consists in a number of parallel threads grouped around a main sequece, which is the one within the concious area (201) 

Although actual reason is not universal, potencial reason is, and it can be actualized by schooling … even in civilized societies most adults seem to reason fallaciously most of the time as soon as they go beyond practical matters (202)


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