A concept is a mental symbol, used to denote a class of things in the world. Concepts are mental representations that allows us to draw appropriate inferences about the type of entities we encounter in our everyday lives. Concepts do not encompass all mental representations, but are merely a subset of them. Concepts are the glue that bind entities in the world, and are distinct from 'conceptions', which are the beliefs that we hold about these entities. The use of concepts is necessary to cognitive processes such as categorization, memory, decision making, learning and inference.
Concepts are also sometimes construed as abstract entities. This debate concerns the ontological status of concepts - what they are really like. However, there is no reason to think concepts cannot be mental representations and we will continue with the above description, which is the most widely used in discussions in philosophy and psychology.
There is debate as to the relationship between concepts and natural language. However, it is necessary at least to begin by understanding that the concept "dog" is philosophically distinct from the things in the world grouped by this concept - or the reference class or extension. Concepts that can be equated to a single word are called "lexical concepts".
Study of concepts and conceptual structure falls into the disciplines of philosophy, psychology and cognitive science.
Read more about Concept: Etymology
Famous quotes containing the word concept:
“The nearer a conception comes towards finality, the nearer does the dynamic relation, out of which this concept has arisen, draw to a close. To know is to lose.”
—D.H. (David Herbert)
“Teaching Black Studies, I find that students are quick to label a black person who has grown up in a predominantly white setting and attended similar schools as not black enough. ...Our concept of black experience has been too narrow and constricting.”
—bell hooks (b. c. 1955)
“Every new concept first comes to the mind in a judgment.”
—Charles Sanders Peirce (18391914)