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:
“Modern man, if he dared to be articulate about his concept of heaven, would describe a vision which would look like the biggest department store in the world, showing new things and gadgets, and himself having plenty of money with which to buy them. He would wander around open-mouthed in this heaven of gadgets and commodities, provided only that there were ever more and newer things to buy, and perhaps that his neighbors were just a little less privileged than he.”
—Erich Fromm (19001980)
“To find the length of an object, we have to perform certain
physical operations. The concept of length is therefore fixed when the operations by which length is measured are fixed: that is, the concept of length involves as much as and nothing more than the set of operations by which length is determined.”
—Percy W. Bridgman (18821961)
“Every new concept first comes to the mind in a judgment.”
—Charles Sanders Peirce (18391914)