From Sensations to Concepts: a Proposal for Two Learning Processes

Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Review of Philosophy and Psychology, 2019, 10 (3), pp. 441 - 464
Issue Date:
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This article presents two learning processes in order to explain how children at an early age can transform a complex sensory input to concepts and categories. The first process constructs the perceptual structures that emerge in children’s cognitive development by detecting invariants in the sensory input. The invariant structures involve a reduction in dimensionality of the sensory information. It is argued that this process generates the primary domains of space, objects and actions and that these domains can be represented as conceptual spaces. Once the primary domains have been established, the second process utilizes covariances between different dimensions of the domains in order to identify natural clusters of entities. The clusters are then are used to determine concepts as regions in the spaces. As an application, the processes are used to resolve the so-called ‘complex first paradox’ that emerges from the fact that children, in general, learn nouns earlier than adjectives, even though nouns are semantically more complex than adjectives.
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