Concepts share a number of characteristics (Antia, 1999, see also):
- in general concepts are language-independent. Though words describing a
concept may differ due to different languages or even by a variety of
possibilities within a given language, they result from experiences and
education rather than existence as such.
- concepts are mental or logical representations of
reality. In this sense
all concepts are abstract and exist purely mentally, but they prepare a way for
the human mind to classify and to understand the minds perceptions.
- concepts are comprised of characteristics. The `mental image' of reality
is classified according to characteristics to enable the classification of
other objects or concepts as the same, a similar or different one (with all
subclasses of these classes).
- concepts are negotiated within a knowledge community. For example, in a
specific field of interest all experts ought to have a similar `mental image'
of an object so that there are agreed features and characteristics they
work on. Otherwise, to give a rather profane example, one expert can talk
about `fruit' while the other one discusses the colour `red' referring to the same
- concepts are related to other concepts. There is no `mental image' to
stand alone, somehow there must be relations to other concepts.
- concepts do not need symbols but hold them for means of communication.
If someone sees a word denoting a concept as a symbol for the concept, then
this is already covered by the language independence of concepts. This is also true for
mathematical formulas and other symbol conventions due to the principle of
arbitrariness. The existence of concepts without any symbols representing them
can be imagined, but if it were possible to give an example here, there would
automatically be a contradiction of not holding a symbol -- here the
description could serve as a symbol.
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Fri May 21 13:04:11 MET DST 1999