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2H03 - Concepts, Cats, Gen. Knowledge 1.docx

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Sandra Thoon

Concepts, Categories and Generic Knowledge 10/23/2013 9:32:00 AM Concepts  The building blog of our knowledge  Ex. The concept of a dog, concept of a birthday party  Concepts are more generic than memory – not tied to a specific episode  Generic memories are things you know without specifically knowing where you know them from  Including stuff you never even thought of as “knowing” o Including schemata: what is in a professor’s office, what you do at a restaurant  What does it mean to know what a “dog” is? How do we know that something belongs to the category “dog”? o Concepts and cats aren’t the same thing as words. We use words to describe cats, but they are not exactly the same. o Eg. Big, huge, large o You have al kind of concepts that you don’t have a word for, and some concepts you have many words for o Ex. Between your nose and mouth – you know what it is, the concept, may not know it’s a Philtrum  Concept: a mental representation  Ex. See what a dog is.  Category: the set of entities or examples picked out by the concept  Ex. All the dogs in the world. Why Categorize?  We are prone to putting things into bins (categorizing)  Enables us to make sense of the world – use our previous experience and profit from it  If you couldn’t categorize, every instance would be a new category, and knowledge would never help you make any useful predictions about it’s properties Functions of Concepts 1. Classification  Concepts allow us to treat two different things as equivalent  Deciding that two or more things belong to the same category (pug and Doberman are dogs 2. Understanding  Allows us to break experience apart into meaningful chunks, and to construct an interpretation of it; allows us to bring old knowledge to bear on new situations  ex. Understanding the “Jane” story  We understand the story because of our concept of children, piggy banks, etc. 3. Prediction  Classification allows us to make predictions about the future so we can select plans and actions  Ex. On a cloudy day you may want to bring an umbrella 4. Reasoning  You don’t need to store every fact if inferences can be derived from information that is stored  Ex. Kangaroos breathe, ducks breathe, pigs breathe  ANIMALS breathe 5. Communication  Using the same categories allows us to communicate knowledge to each other  Ex. Don’t need to explain a dog as a furry little four-legged animal  Ex. Someone not having a concept makes it hard to have a conversation How do we do this? How do we categorize millions of little things/actions/attributes/experiences that we know about? What do we base our categories on? Is the world naturally divided into categories, or do our categories help us function in the world? Classical View  Concepts have defining features  Ex. What is a dog? Define it’s features. Four-legged, furry, domestic, barking  CRITIQUE  What about a dog that doesn’t bark? A dog that doesn’t have four legs? How can we classify without the categories? There are usually exceptions.  Hard to come up with a good def. maybe there is a good one (something to do with DNA maybe?), we just haven’t come up with it yet  Ex. Def. of a bachelor?  Even without definitions, we still have concepts  We still know what a dog is, without having to undertake his DNA.  Psychologists reject the classical view. Wittgenstein:  Category member have a family resemblance to each other – some features in common, but not every member has to have those features. Different members have different features in common.  Ex. No one think that defines all 7 dwarves.  Definition becomes PROBABILISTIC  If you have X and Y, it is likely that you belong to category T.  THIS MEANS: No necessary conditions for belonging to a category, no sufficient definitions either.  Does not take structure away from category – still things in common, but things in common will change depending on case  Fuzzy boundaries – there are degrees of “dogness”, some dogs are better examples of dogs than others. Prototype Theory  The AVERAGE of a category – what is an “ideal” dog  Things that are more similar to prototype are good dogs; as they get more and more dissimilar, they are less and less good dogs, and eventually, not dogs at all  Graded membership  Ex. Golden retriever may be in the centre – most like dogs around, most different, less likely to be a “dog” according to concept  Not most frequent, often the best.  Ex. Drawing a tree – you’d probably draw big one with full leaves, it is not the actual more frequent/average one you encounter  Ex. People would rate morphed face of average-ness as most attractive. Testing  Sentence verification: is this true or not?  Ex. Is a robin a bird? Is an emu a bird?  Measure reaction time – faster reaction, more typical example  Typicality ratings  Ex. Rank “sofa, dining room table, ottoman, piano, TV stand” as to how TYPICAL of category furniture  There would be high ratings of dining room table compared to piano for “typical furniture”  Different people may have different prototypes (different “ideals”) – based on personal experience  Ex. Protypical fruit for Jamaica is different than Canada Basic Level Categories  Ex. Car  Superordinate – vehicle  Subordinate – 2001 Honda civic  We usually describe the world in terms of basic level categories  Languages usually have one word for basic level categories  E.g. “chair”, “apple”, vs. “rocking chair”, “granny Smith apple”  Children learn basic level
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