How language enables abstraction : a study in computational cultural psychology

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DOIResolve DOI: http://doi.org/10.1007/s12124-011-9165-8
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TypeArticle
Journal titleIntegrative Psychological and Behavioral Science
Volume46
Issue2
Pages129145; # of pages: 17
Subjectthought and language; abstraction; hypostatic abstraction; computational cultural psychology
AbstractThe idea that language mediates our thoughts and enables abstract cognition has been a key idea in socio-cultural psychology. However, it is not clear what mechanisms support this process of abstraction. Peirce argued that one mechanism by which language enables abstract thought is hypostatic abstraction, the process through which a predicate (e.g., dark) turns into an object (e.g., darkness). By using novel computational tools we tested Peirce’s idea. Analysis of the data provides empirical support for Peirce's mechanism and evidence of the way the use of signs enables abstraction. These conclusions are supported by the in-depth analysis of two case studies concerning the abstraction of sweet and dark. The paper concludes by discussing the findings from a broad and integrative theoretical perspective and by pointing to computational cultural psychology as a promising perspective for addressing long-lasting questions of the field.
Publication date
LanguageEnglish
AffiliationNRC Institute for Information Technology; National Research Council Canada
Peer reviewedYes
NPARC number19663213
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Record identifier1844c890-6798-4c19-9cf5-d626b88bc56c
Record created2012-03-20
Record modified2016-05-09
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