Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Major

Philosophy

Date of Defense

4-19-2013

Graduate Advisor

Gualtiero Piccinini

Committee

Jon McGinnis

John Brunero

Abstract

Through a historical investigation into the medieval problem of universals, I come to an understanding of the philosophical notion of ‘concept’ that is compatible with the contemporary discussion of concepts within cognitive science. Contra Edouard Machery (2009), I argue that the philosophical and psychological notions of ‘concept’ are compatible by developing the Aristotelian solution to the problem of universals into a conceptualist position. This will then be used to subsume the various paradigms of concepts countenanced by contemporary psychologists. I emphasize a conceptual scheme of reality that is embraced by both ancient and contemporary thinkers: what I call the tetrafurcation of reality. By focusing on the cognitive activity of abstraction, it can be shown that the three paradigms of concepts discussed by Machery reflect three prominent ways in which we abstract from our experience of the world. The three paradigms exhibit a unity that is captured by the philosophical notion of ‘concept’.

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