Review of Philosophy and Psychology

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 99–116 | Cite as

The Cognitive Design of Tools of Thought

  • Barbara Tversky


When thought overwhelms the mind, the mind puts it into the world, notably in diagrams and gestures.Both use space and arrays of elements, depictive and non-depictive, to convey ideas, concrete and abstract,clear and sketchy. The arrays and the non-depictive elements like boxes and arrows serve to showrelationships and organizations, thematic, categorical, and more. on paper, in the air, in the diagrammedworld. Human actions organize space to convey abstractions: spraction.


Mental Rotation Perceptual Inference Expert Designer External Representation Visual Explanation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I am indebted to my colleagues and collaborators, especially Valeria Giardino, Jocelyn Penny Small, Azadeh Jamalian, Angela Kessell, Julie Heiser, Paul Lee, and Jeff Zacks. I am grateful the Varieties of Understanding Project at Fordham University and The John Templeton Foundation and to the following National Science Foundation grants for facilitating the research and/or preparing the manuscript: National Science Foundation HHC 0905417, IIS-0725223, IIS-0855995, and REC 0440103. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funders.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Columbia Teachers College and Stanford UniversityNew YorkUSA

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