Cognition is categorization

Harnad, Stevan (2005) Cognition is categorization. [Book Chapter]

Full text available as:



We organisms are sensorimotor systems. The things in the world come in contact with our sensory surfaces, and we interact with them based on what that sensorimotor contact “affords”. All of our categories consist in ways we behave differently toward different kinds of things -- things we do or don’t eat, mate-with, or flee-from, or the things that we describe, through our language, as prime numbers, affordances, absolute discriminables, or truths. That is all that cognition is for, and about.

Item Type:Book Chapter
Additional Information:Paper presented at UQˆM Summer Institute in Cognitive Sciences on Categorisation 2003
Keywords:categorization, cognition, learning, categorical perception, invariants, Borges, Watanabe, Fodor, Chomsky
Subjects:Psychology > Cognitive Psychology
Computer Science > Robotics
ID Code:3027
Deposited By:Harnad, Stevan
Deposited On:19 Jun 2003
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:55

References in Article

Select the SEEK icon to attempt to find the referenced article. If it does not appear to be in cogprints you will be forwarded to the paracite service. Poorly formated references will probably not work.

Biederman, I. & Shiffrar, M. M. (1987) Sexing day-old chicks: A case study and expert systems analysis of a difficult perceptual-learning task. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition 13: 640 - 645.

Borges, J.L. (1962) Funes el memorioso

Cangelosi, A. & Harnad, S. (2001) The Adaptive Advantage of Symbolic Theft Over Sensorimotor Toil: Grounding Language in Perceptual Categories. Evolution of Communication 4(1) 117-142

Chomsky, N. (1976) In Harnad, Stevan and Steklis, Horst D. and Lancaster, Jane B., Eds. Origins and Evolution of Language and Speech, page 58. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.

Fodor, J. A. (1975) The language of thought. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell

Fodor, J. A. (1981) RePresentations. Cambridge MA: MIT/Bradford.

Fodor, J. A. (1998). In critical condition: Polemical essays on cognitive science and the philosophy of mind. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Gibson, J.J. (1979). The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. Houghton Mifflin, Boston. (Currently published by Lawrence Eribaum, Hillsdale, NJ

Goldstone, R.L., (1994) Influences of categorization on perceptual discrimination. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 123: 178Ð200

Goldstone, R.L. (2001) The Sensitization and Differentiation of Dimensions During Category Learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 130: 116-139

Harnad, S. (1987) Category Induction and Representation, In: Harnad, S. (ed.) (1987) Categorical Perception: The Groundwork of Cognition . New York: Cambridge University Press.

Harnad, S. (1990) The Symbol Grounding Problem. Physica D 42: 335-346.

Harnad, S. (2000) Minds, Machines, and Turing: The Indistinguishability of Indistinguishables. Journal of Logic, Language, and Information 9(4): 425-445. (special issue on "Alan Turing and Artificial Intelligence")

Harnad, S. (2001) No Easy Way Out. The Sciences 41(2) 36-42.

Harnad, S. (2003) Categorical Perception. Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science. Nature Publishing Group. Macmillan.

Harnad, S. (2003) Symbol-Grounding Problem. Encylopedia of Cognitive Science. Nature Publishing Group. Macmillan.

Livingston, Kenneth and Andrews, Janet and Harnad, Stevan (1998) Categorical Perception Effects Induced by Category Learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition 24(3):732-753

Luria, A. R. (1968) The Mind of a Mnemonist. Harvard University Press

Miller, George (1956) The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information. Psychological Review 63:81-97

Rosch, E. & Lloyd, B. B. (1978) Cognition and categorization. Hillsdale NJ: Erlbaum Associates

Steklis, Horst Dieter and Harnad, Stevan (1976) From hand to mouth: Some critical stages in the evolution of language, In: Origins and Evolution of Language and Speech (Harnad, Stevan, Steklis , Horst Dieter and Lancaster, Jane B., Eds.), 445-455. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 280.

Watanabe, S., (1985) "Theorem of the Ugly Duckling", Pattern Recognition: Human and Mechanical. Wiley

Whorf, B.L. (1956) Language, Thought and Reality. (J.B. Carroll, Ed.) Cambridge: MIT


Repository Staff Only: item control page