Jerome Bruner:

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(Copyright © 2000 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

This is considered the book that started the cognitive revolution. Jerome Bruner was among the first to realize that most cognitive processes are nothing but classification processes in disguise. Cognitive activity ("thinking") depends on placing an event or situation in the appropriate category. A category is basically a set of events that can be treated the same way by the cognitive organism. Bruner also realized that categories are not "discovered" but "invented". They do not exist in the environment: they are construed by the human mind. Thus the inference that matters is really the one that helps create a new category based on some events, and the inference that helps classify an event relative to the existing categories. A concept is a network of such inferences that allow to infer an event's category based on some observed attributes of the event, and then to infer the unobserved attributes of that event. The "functionalist" definition of an object, for example, is the network of inferences about it that one is capable of employing after an act of categorization. There exist different kinds of concepts, that employ and trigger different kinds of inference. A common kind of inference is the one that all members of a category share some common attributes, but this is only one of the possible inferences to define a category.

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