Categorising without Concepts

  • Ophelia DeroyEmail author


A strong claim, often found in the literature, is that it is impossible to categorize perceptual properties unless one possesses the related concepts. The evidence from visual perception reviewed in this paper however questions this claim: Concepts, at least canonically defined, are ill-suited to explain perceptual categorisation, which is a fast, and crucially a largely involuntary and unconscious process, which rests on quickly updated probabilistic calculations. I suggest here that perceptual categorisation rests on non-conceptual sorting principles. This changes the claim that categorisation cannot occur without concepts: It does not preclude that the concepts remain necessary for categorisation, but opens the possibility that they are not and that those sorting principles could be here sufficient.



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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Philosophy and Munich Centre for NeuroscienceLudwig Maximilian UniversityMunichGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Philosophy, School of Advanced StudyUniversity of LondonLondonUK

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