New concepts can be learned
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The philosopher of mind who stands convinced of the relevance of empirical results soon hits a problem. Lured in by a few interesting studies, the door opens on a cacophony of data, like a frenetic party in full swing. There are just so many studies out there. How do they fit together? And what do they all add up to? The young Charles Darwin faced the same problem.1 In The Origin of Concepts, Susan Carey comes to our rescue. In the tradition of the other Origin, Carey’s book offers a theory which turns a mass of facts into a coherent story.
Much of this substantial book is devoted an array of fascinating studies, from Carey’s own lab and from others in the discipline. Each is explained vividly and deployed to good dialectical effect. The local arguments are judicious, measured and unpolemical, and they add up to a bold and interesting narrative. For Carey has an answer to a conundrum that lies at the heart of cognitive science, one which made trouble for the discipline almost as soon...
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