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Tuesday, May 01, 2007 7:45 AM
Lakoff, G. (1987). Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal about the Mind. Chicago, University of Chicago Press.
I think this is a pretty interesting book, a sort of Some themes Lakoff discusses (Lakoff 1987: 12): ○ Family resemblances: not all members have to compendium of categories. I think that Lakoff plays a little fast and loose with some of the research he cites, have any particular properties in common to define a category. Games, for example. Chess but there are a lot of interesting ideas here, especially and go both involve competition, skill and the for designers working with classification (which is pretty much every designer). use of long-term strategies. Chess and poker both involve competition. Poker and old maid What is cognitive science? Lakoff's version asks the are both card games. (Lakoff 1987: 16). ○ Centrality: Some members are better examples following questions (Lakoff 1987: xi): ○ What is reason? than others. Any definition of numbers has to ○ How do we make sense of our experience? include the integers, but you don't necessarily ○ What is a conceptual system and how is it have to include transfinite numbers. There are organized? dozens of different types of mothers who are ○ Do all people use the same conceptual system? named, but not all of them (birth mother, ○ If so, what is that system? adoptive mother, etc, but nothing for ○ If not, exactly what is there that is common to transsexuals who gave birth but are now men). ○ Polysemy as categorization the way all human beings think? ○ Generativity as a prototype phenomenon ○ Membership gradience: At least some Lakoff summarizes the first 150 pages of his book on pg. 153: categories have degrees of membership and no ○ The structure of thought is characterized by clear boundaries. ○ Centrality gradience: Members can be in cognitive models. ○ Categories of mind correspond to elements in categories boundaries, but they can be more or those models. less central. ○ Some cognitive models are scalar. They yield ○ Conceptual embodiment ○ Functional embodiment categories with degrees of membership. These ○ Basic-level categorization: See also Rosch 1976 are the source of some prototype effects. ○ Some cognitive models are classical; that is, they or Lakoff 1987: 46 for characterizations of basic have rigid boundaries and are defined by levels. "Our knowledge at the basic level is necessary and sufficient conditions. They can be mainly organized around part-whole divisions" the source of prototype effects when their (Lakoff 1987: 47). Parts are functions, they determine shapes, they're what we interact with. background conditions are partly consistent ○ Basic-level primacy with our knowledge about certain given entities. ○ Some cognitive models are metonymic, in that ○ Reference-point, or 'metonymic,' reasoning: they allow a part of a category (a member or Part of a category can stand for the whole subcategory) to stand for the category as a whole category in certain reasoning processes. ○ Paragons are not averages, but they are ideals for some purpose, usually reasoning. They too can be sources of prototype effects. or the opposite. Babe Ruth, Cadillac. Of course ○ The most radical prototype phenomena are paragons in a field are not paragons as human radial categories. They cannot be represented by beings (though this surprises us every time a single model plus general principles. They scandal breaks). ○ Chaining can put things in the same category involve many models organized around a center, with links to the center. even though you can pluck up two items and not see any relevant shared properties (see also Lakoff 1987: 109). (This list continues, but I'm not going to type it all up here.) Essentialism says that things have properties that make them the kind of thing they are. Other Classical categories properties are accidental and just happen to be there. "Categories on the traditional view are characterized solely by the properties shared by their members" Framing and commensurability: Two conceptual (Lakoff 1987: xi).
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"Categorization is not a matter to be taken lightly. concepts have an overall structure that goes 515-540. refer to them" (Lakoff 1987: xiv). The predicate calculus view of science "characterizes explanations only in terms of deductions from Ross. (1973). Prade. that is. frame by frame. objectively construed. in the sense that they transcend. I'm not quite sure what to do with Rosch here. There is nothing more basic than categorization to our thought. Typical category members are unconscious and automatic. pp. not species. (1980). hypotheses. (1981). (1958). any kind of thing at all--we are employing categories…Without the ability to categorize. atomistic. all rational thought Cain.). or go References beyond. On plant and animal naming (embodiment abstract symbols and that these symbols get their determines some of the most significant properties of human categories). action. Creating experimental paradigms for problematic cases" (Lakoff 1987: 6).C. HCI Page 2 .: Georgetown University Press. J. New York: symbolic structures) that can designate categories in Academic Press. beyond merely putting together conceptual 'building blocks' by general rules" (Lakoff 1987: xiv). Shows that toe is nounier than breath. D." Language 56. "Most categorization is automatic and unconscious. (Lakoff 1987: 63 has some of this. Such a methodology not only claims to time. or correspondingly. either in the physical world or in members to reason. pp. J. and if we become aware of it at all. 340-373. for example. (Lakoff 1987: xii). emotions. they aren't discussed publically. New Ways of tree. in a lifetime. 3. no. But see Kuhn. R. Whenever we reason about Analyzing Variation in English. they don't really change our social and intellectual lives" (Lakoff 1987: 5-6). Look at his work on ad hoc (Lakoff 1987: xi). it also claims that no other approach can be sufficiently precise to be called Open questions scientific" (Lakoff 1987: 10). (1980).) be rigorous in itself. a Their Meanings. "The Iconicity of Grammar: "Thought has gestalt properties and is thus not Isomorphism and Motivation. general point is that prototype effects don't directly mirror category structure or constitute "On the objectivist view. Kempton. kinds of things--chairs. On the objectivist view. Every time Labov. the physical limitations of any organism" Barsalou (1983. (1958). or in some possible world. Dubois. the real world. (Lakoff 1987: xi). The Folk Classification of Ceramics: A Study of Cognitive Prototypes. The correspondences with things in the external world" genus gives general characteristics. perception." In J. D. meaningful concepts and rationality are transcendental." Which looks at the fact that are given meaning only via conventional the heart of the system is genus. nations. W. determining subjects' ratings of how good an example of a category a member is judged to be. and H. "Logic and Memory in Linnaeus's involves the manipulation of abstract symbols which System of Taxonomy. Fuzzy Sets and "All conceptual categories must be symbols (or Systems: Theory and Applications. which is nounier than computations. Thus. meaning via a correspondence with the world. we are categorizing. categories like "things to take from one's home during a fire". A collection of Brown. Haiman. "The Boundaries of Words and we see something as a kind of thing. Modern attempts to make objectivism work "assume that rational thought consists of the manipulation of Berlin. And the world must come divided up into categories of the Fauconnier (1985) on referential opacity. structured world is viewed as a representation of reality. illnesses. right kind so that symbols and symbolic structures can presupposition and other mental space phenomenon. necessarily embodied in any organism. 1984). and speech. B. Washington. A. W. it is only in Rosch. for example. (1981). reality comes with a unique. The reasons why this isn't true. in terms of which is nounier than way. we could Rips (1975) shows that people use typical category not function at all. New York: Academic Press. Fishman (Ed.Framing and commensurability: Two conceptual systems are commensurable if they frame situations in the same way and if there is a one-one "The traditional account claims that the capacity for meaningful thought and for reason is abstract and not correspondence between concepts in the two systems. "How Shall a Thing Be Called?" For a symbols placed in correspondence with an objectively first look at basic-level categories. E. independent of the understanding of any organism.
"the criterion of getting the truth conditions right in sentence-by-sentence translation ignores what is in the mind. and relations. etc."On the objectivist view. our probability judgments about the HCI Page 3 . It ignores how sentences are understood. see Lakoff 1987: 128. or tale. Problems with classical categories "If categories are defined only by properties that all members share. prototypes themselves do not constitute any particular model of process. Schank and Abelson's scripts (1977) and Rumelhart's schemas (1975) with Fillmore's frames (1968?)? There are a number of arguments against some of these models in the HCI world. see Lakoff 1987: 307. etc. memory. and parrots are all 100% birds. For discussion of basic clause types and prototype effects in syntax. (See Lakoff 1987: 116-117). and learning. A cross between a pear and an apple might be something that is a fruit but is not an apple and is not not-an-apple. Rosch's basic-level results suggest (from Lakoff 1987: 146): ○ There are basic-level concepts. For some general problems in logic and Barwise principles of veridicality and substitution. (Rosch 1978: 40 qtd. properties. More specifically. complete structure in terms of entities. both internally and relative to one another" (Lakoff 1987: 316). reality comes with a unique. matching.) Experimental methods Remember that you can do learning. or bed. mirror category structure or constitute representations of categories. Since owls. we can't use this example to show fuzzy boundaries. I need to check up on them. interaction. They don't work because objectivism requires something to always hold. This structure exists. (Lakoff 1987: 45). processing. "We have no abstract mental images of furniture that are not images of basic-level objects like chairs. (Lakoff 1987: 141). "A cognitive model may function to allow a salient beds. then no members should be better examples of the category than any other members" (Lakoff 1987: 7). then categories should be independent of the peculiarities of any beings doing the categorizing" (Lakoff 1987: 7). I'm curious about how Montague semantics handle "small galaxy" and "good thief" cases. Usually logicians say that there is no apple that isn't an apple. judgment tasks. representations. but they aren't atomic concepts. He doesn't like them because they can't handle effects of metonymy. ○ Meaning is based on human perception. How much variation is there across conceptual systems? How deep is the variation? What is its nature? (For other questions. It's required because of the idea that language is a formal system. Try to imagine a piece of furniture that example to stand metonymically for a whole category. "If categories are defined only by properties inherent in the members. correct. Fun May want to talk about Lounsbury and Fox kinship systems (Lakoff 1987: 22). or learning. However. doesn't look like a chair. but we can use it to show internal structure of a category. Is it right to lump Minsky's frames (1975). But a carved wooden apple might be considered an apple that is not an apple. but I think there's some subtlety that I'm missing: The pervasiveness of prototypes in real-world categories and of prototypicality as a variable indicates that prototypes must have some place in psychological theories of representation. And it ignores how concepts are organized. see Lakoff 1987: 66-67. and is therefore not truth conditional. They have nothing imaginative and have a single representation for each category (so no radial structures). Ekman's basic emotions which correlate universally with facial gestures (though I have heard that there are solid refutations of this): ○ Happiness ○ Sadness ○ Anger ○ Fear ○ Surprise ○ Interest Linguistics The most fundamental assumption of Chomsky's theory of language is that grammar is separate from cognition. penguins. in Lakoff 1987: 44). and understanding. tables. ○ Direct ratings ○ Reaction times ○ Production of examples ○ Similarity (look for asymmetries) Rosch (1977) developed tests to get at the relative centrality of members in a category. independent of any human understanding" (Lakoff 1987: 159). Lakoff likes them for giving network structures with labeled branches that can code propositional information. but is In such cases.
there is the performance-competence a choice must be made…Why?. since falsity entails both intent to deceive and lack of belief. and a grammar as a set of rules that 104-109.) "Consider an unwed mother who gives up her child for adoption and then goes out and gets a job. Esther Williams is a regular fish) undermines the objectivist view of the distinction between definitional and incidental properties. Is a Zebra?" See quotes in Lakoff 1987: 119. is defined as a set of Examples of the counter hon happen in Lakoff 1987: sentences. see Lakoff ○ Technically. Ideally. taxonomic models of life forms. there are three basic semantic types for classifiers--all having to do with interaction: ○ Physical interaction (handling) ○ Functional interaction (using an object as a vehicle) ○ Social interaction--interacting appropriately with a human compared to an animal or a high status person compared to a low status one. even though falsity turned out consistently to be the least important element by far in the cluster of conditions…Falsity is the most informative of the conditions in the idealized model. Ronald Reagan is a rancher. "they consistently said it was a false statement. (Lakoff 1987: 60). or bed. No analysis of a classifier system is complete until you've distinguished unrelated homonyms from related ones. See Lakoff 1987: 138-139. More specifically.org/wiki/Celestial_Emporium_of_ theory of categorization and formal semantics. last second observation is Sweetser 1984). Richard Nixon is a Quaker. generative grammar is defined so as to be independent of general cognitive capabilities. Richard Nixon is a Quaker. which are concerned at least initially. The role of hedges (Esther Williams is a fish vs.wikipedia. Ronald Reagan is a rancher.There is nothing distinction. Consequently. It is thus falsity that is the defining characteristic of a lie" (qt from Lakoff 1987: 72-73. This is Benevolent_Recognition. The Coleman-Kay study (1981) asked informants to define a lie. be claimed to be in the realm of mere with different and equally valid issues" (Lakoff 1987: performance and thus can be ignored…Second. they are supposed to converge. 180-181). true throughout generative linguistics. Thus. humanly relevant notion of a category can be But Lakoff asks a good question: "There are at least adequately represented via a set-theoretical version of two kinds of taxonomic models available to an objectivist theory of categories" (Lakoff 1987: traditional biologists: the cladistic and the phenetic. ○ Strictly speaking. The Denny argument is that the range of physical interaction classifiers correlates with the kinds of significant physical activities in the culture. which is sufficiently manipulable so that wrong with saying that there are just two different almost any experimental result from psychology can. generative linguistics rests on the classical theory of categorization as it has been interpreted in Gould (1983) has a great discussion of "What. 121). People seem not to be able to do so" (Lakoff 1987: 52). or tale. Stereotypes are important for conceptual structure because they define normal expectations and these are important in cognition since expectations are required to characterize the meanings of certain words.. (See also Lakoff 1987: 115. Sweeter shows that weighted feature bundles don't provide enough structure. says Lakoff (1987: 07). inadequate for general cognition will be irrelevant in ○ Strictly speaking. Borges' taxonomy of the animal kingdom (Lakoff 1987: 92) is one of my favorites: Sets are at the heart of all modern versions of classical http://en. and they do in a great many cases. within generative linguistics. etc. "The paradigm in which generative linguistics is HCI Page 4 .In such cases. Denny (1976) observes that cross-linguistically. which absolutely requires semantics and pragmatics be kept separate. One member is neutral (tall) and perhaps more basic (and "unmarked"). ○ Technically. If the Fregean tradition--the assumption that the Anything. the study of linguistic phenomena leads to hypotheses concerning conceptual organization" (Lakoff 1987: 334). "A language. doesn't look like a chair. generative linguistics" (For more of this.. "The generalizations concerning polysemy can only be described and explained in terms of conceptual organization. but How short is Harry suggests that Harry is short. respect. 1987: 181). I think Todd and Angella would get a kick out characterizes the set of sentences…In virtually every of this section. our probability judgments about the category are affected" (Lakoff 1987: 90). but is more abstract. any The discussion of technically and strictly speaking demonstration that classical categorization is (from Kay 1983) is pretty fun (Lakoff 1987: 123-125). She is still a mother…and she is working--but she is not a working mother!" (Lakoff 1987: 80). but by no means all…The force of Generative linguistics insulates itself from empirical the folk theory of taxonomic models is so strong that findings: "First. "Neutralization of contrasts": How tall is Harry doesn't imply that Harry is tall.
but not vice versa" (Lakoff 1987: 225). it is still pretty fun.Strictly speaking. "The paradigm in which generative linguistics is defined absolutely requires a strong assumption of the autonomy of syntax from semantics and of the language faculty from any external cognitive influence" (Lakoff 1987: 182). The 'semantics' consists of the model structure plus the mapping principles. A physicist has to have HCI Page 5 . In mathematical logic. "Human beings do not function with internally consistent. monolithic conceptual systems. Lakoff 1987: 37). something international. their harmfulness is marked by placing them in another category--class I" (Lakoff 1987: 95). limited to subpopulations of experts who may treat a slightly more specific level as basic in some domains of expertise" (From Berlin. but to parameters of meaning" (Lakoff 1987: 583). Such interactional properties form clusters as possible about parameters of form on the basis of in our experience. These suggest to me good reasons that software fails--direct manipulation is often NOT the cause of things that happen. For Dyribal: "Trees. See Lakoff 1987: 131134. But two stinging trees and a stinging nettle vine are in class II with harmful things. vines. "The result of our interactions as part of our physical and cultural "Since meaning and communicative function are environments given our bodies and our cognitive primary. "One must learn the right way to conceptualize the problem. From Dixon 1982: "If there is a basic domain of experience associated with A. and principles for mapping the syntax into the model structures. This idea "derives from the attempt to impose the structure of mathematical logic on the study of human language and human thought in general. especially of those domains of experience that do not come with a clearly delineated preconceptual structure of their own. But "formalist 'syntax' and 'semantics' in the tradition of mathematical logic are artificial constructions invented to serve certain mathematical purposes. and grasses with no edible parts are in class IV. One of the classic compound examples is Downing (1977): Please sit in the apple juice seat. Each such conceptualization is a way of comprehending the domain. It is hard for users to construct accurate representations of causality. See also Horn 1985. Relevant to design For software developers: There are two kinds of nonuniversality and one of them is "due to special training. See also "prototypical causation" discussions on Lakoff 1987: 54-55. grammars should attempt to explain as much apparatus. A grammar should therefore show as The relevant notion of a property is not something directly as possible how parameters of form are linked objective and independent in the world. Each of us has many ways of making sense of experience. Ronald Reagan is a rancher. bushes. Though presupposition was killed off in linguistics by the mid-1970s.' independently existing model structures. then it is natural for entities in that domain to be in the same category as A" (qtd in Lakoff 1987: 93). Hawks might be expected to be in class II with other birds. "The primary function of language is to convey meaning. 51). such as the domains of emotion and thought" (Lakoff 1987: 305). They are not about natural language syntax and human reason" (Lakoff 1987: 227). there are an independently existing 'syntax. and prototype and basic-level parameters of meaning and communicative function" structure can reflect such clusterings" (Lakoff 1987: (Lakoff 1987: 583). Quinn (in press when Lakoff was writing in 1987) demonstrates how different conceptualizations of marriage on the part of spouses in a marriage affect behavior and lead to misunderstanding and marital difficulties. It is a consequence of the definition of this kind of system that the syntax exists independent of the semantics. but since they are harmful.
comprehending the domain. and he has to know which one to use in which physical domain. A physicist has to have many ways of conceptualizing force. There is no single correct way to conceptualize force that will work for all physical domains" (Lakoff 1987: 306). HCI Page 6 .
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