Conceptual Schemes


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  • Created by: Amy
  • Created on: 12-05-12 17:59

Concepts are believed to be innate within us. They are prominent knowledge, however, but the ability to understand the things to which we experience. For example, time may be a concept - as we can instantly understand the passing of time, even if we have to check a clock to see what the time is. 

However, - Mandarin view time differently, they have a different concept of time(Give form to cultural similarities)

- Can be considered to be a lens by which we view the world(Red lenses = red world, yellow lenses= yellow world. We see things differently than other cultures)

- Become accepted through a form of subconscious indoctrination. (Parents indoctrinate children into behaving the way they should. Angry expressions when the child does something wrong, Rewards when they do something right)  

- Monogamy becomes part of our morality, majority of men like young, slender girls, girls try to live up to this image

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Kant's Synthesis

Kant tried to amalgamate empricist and rationalist beliefs, caliming that we are born with an innate ability to make sense of the world.

We have high levels of:

  • Sensibility - we are receptive to objects and events
  • Understanding - we can think, imagine and judge
  • Reason - we have the power to make logical assumptions

Using these three characterstics, we are able to impose in the world.

Hume thought the mind was impassive and simply received information about the world, Kant insisted that the mind was active and created order where there otherwise would not be any.

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12 Schemes that make the Universal Conceptual Sche

Quantity: sorting things out by size, is obvious to us, even without counting. We are born with this skill

Relation: Paintings: we can tell who the paintings are by just judging from them and group them together

Existence: we can tell what things are real and could have existence ( shape illusions compared to real life)


This can just be due to us recognising patterns and constant conjunctions - Hume.

Window analogy & billiard balls - we recognise patterns

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Other concepts

The concept of causality:

• We recognise patterns immediately. E.g.:

• A ship or a car moving, we can judge where it will go. 

• If a car is moving, and we look away, we know to look a bit further on when we look back.

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Chomsky - Language

According to Chomsky, children have an innate knowledge of the basic grammatical structure commone to all human languages.


  • Hopi tribe have "no words, grammatical forms, construction or epressions that refer directly to what we call time"
  • Germans - der die das, we don't understand that
  • Genie; she did not understand grammar and language - only a few phrases
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Morality and God

Descartes - "The baby in the womb has in itself the ideas of God"

Leibniz - We all have a "little God" within us - reiterates 'body is a temple' in Bible

Kant - Synthetic a priori statements: "Stealing is wrong" - predicate does not equate to the subject in terms of definition. We simply know stealing it wrong, due to our morality. 


Hume argues this is due to our sociological upbringing & ideas of social norms (first card)

e.g. there is a tribe that has no concept of ownership of possessiongs, one can just take another person's 'property'. Therefore, there is no idea of 'stealing' for that culture, and morality may not be the same for all of us.

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