Mind: Section 3

Discussion Questions: Week 5 (October 27)

1. Are there singular categories? (Red)

  • Are concepts/categories necessarily defined in terms of their relation to other concepts/categories, or is there such a thing as an isolated (singular) category? If so, what would one look like?
  • If concepts/categories are necessarily interrelated, how is it that they provide the basis for judgments of difference as well as judgments of similarity? That is, what is involved in making categorical distinctions if categories themselves are all interrelated?

2. Stereotypes (Blue)

  • Stereotypes are a particular class of categories that seem to exist among every social group. Why? Is there a principled reason for their emgergence? Can they be overcome?
  • In particular, is it possible that stereotypes actually provide an advantage to individuals and groups by making reasoning and decision making faster and more efficient? If so, why are they typically viewed in a negative light? What are the drawbacks of stereotypes?

3. Language and categorization (Green)

  • Does language affect the creation and perception of categories? (For example, does the word `jellyfish' induce English speakers to categorize such organisms as fish when in fact they are not?)
  • If so, what does this imply about the relation between the development of language and the development of concepts and categories in children? Is their ability to make categorical judgments dependent on (or at least monotonically related to) their linguistic development?
  • Finally, what would this imply about the status of concepts and categories in creatures that don't have language (apes, other intelligent animals, etc)?