Understanding the Meaning of Concept

A concept is a thought or idea about a thing or group of things, derived from specific instances or occurrences. Vocabulary.comOpens in new window

Concepts are the combinatorial building blocks of thoughts and mental imagery. These building blocks are learned complexity, rather than innate complexity; they are abstracted from experience.

The Structure of Concept

Concept structure is absorbed from recurring regularities in perceived reality. Hence, a concept is abstracted from experiences that exist as sensory patterns in one or more modalities.

Once abstracted, a concept can be compared to a new sensory experience to determine whether the new experience satisfies the concept, or equivalently, whether the concept describes a facet of the experience.

Concepts can describe both environmental sensory experience and internally generated mental imagery. Concepts can also be imposed on current working imagery.

In the simplest case, an exemplar associated with the concept can be loaded into the working imagery, but constructing complex mental imagery requires that a concept target a piece of existing mental imagery, which the concept then transforms.

Concepts are faceted; they have internal structure and associational structure which comes into play when imposition or description encounters a bump in the road. Faceting can also be invoked purposefully; for example, “tastes like chocolate” versus “looks like chocolate.”