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The Big Book of Concepts [Hardcover]

Gregory L. Murphy
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug. 21 2002 Bradford Books
Concepts embody our knowledge of the kinds of things there are in the world. Tying our past experiences to our present interactions with the environment, they enable us to recognize and understand new objects and events. Concepts are also relevant to understanding domains such as social situations, personality types, and even artistic styles. Yet like other phenomenologically simple cognitive processes such as walking or understanding speech, concept formation and use are maddeningly complex.

Research since the 1970s and the decline of the "classical view" of concepts have greatly illuminated the psychology of concepts. But persistent theoretical disputes have sometimes obscured this progress. The Big Book of Concepts goes beyond those disputes to reveal the advances that have been made, focusing on the major empirical discoveries. By reviewing and evaluating research on diverse topics such as category learning, word meaning, conceptual development in infants and children, and the basic level of categorization, the book develops a much broader range of criteria than is usual for evaluating theories of concepts.

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Review

"This is going to be the classic text in the field for a very long time."
Nature

"We've needed a book like this for the past decade. The Big Book of Concepts is beautifully done in so many ways and a true service to the field. Murphy's ambitious and integrated review is unusually thorough, thoughtful, and fair in its coverage of the diverse literatures on concepts. Graduate students will remember this volume the rest of their careers for what it taught them, and seasoned researchers will use it as the authoritative source to fill holes in their knowledge."
Lawrence W. Barsalou, Department of Psychology, Emory University

"The study of concepts has flourished in recent years, and Murphy has been one of the leading figures behind several changes in how we view concepts, their mental representation, and their use. The Big Book of Concepts offers a superb discussion of recent research from a wide variety of perspectives. This book is essential reading not only for those interested in concepts directly but also for those interested in cognitive development, word meaning, and many other related areas of cognitive science."
Frank C. Keil, Professor, Department of Psychology, Yale University

"This book is a landmark achievement in the cognitive science of human concepts. It beautifully integrates experimental data and theories to arrive at a rich account of how concepts are learned, represented, interrelated, used, combined, and changed."
Robert Goldstone, Professor of Psychology, Program in Cognitive Science, Indiana University

"Murphy's well-written Big Book of Concepts provides a much-needed overview of the rapidly developing field of concept learning and use. This book should be read by anyone who wants to understand the theories and empirical studies that will provide the foundation for new research for decades to come."
Arthur B. Markman, Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin

About the Author

Gregory L. Murphy is Professor of Psychology at New York University.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
Concepts are the glue that holds our mental world together. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem of a book Feb. 13 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Gregory Murphy begins this extraordinary book by saying, "Concepts are the glue that holds our mental world together". This is actually an understatement. Without concepts there would be no mental world in the first place. Concepts are mental representations that tie together specific instances, and are essential for relating ongoing experience to knowledge from the past. Concepts allow us to move from William James' "blooming buzzing confusion" to structured and adaptive thought.
Murphy is one of the leading scholars in this area, and he reviews a messy and complicated literature with honesty, clarity, and wit. This is going to be the classic text in the field for a very long time. It is one of the rare cases where the standard back-of-the-book blurb is actually true: Anyone seriously interested in concepts and categorization - seasoned researchers, graduates and advanced undergraduates, or scholars who simply want to get a sense of the field - really must read this book.
(Note: this is an excerpt from a review that was published in the journal "Nature")
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent text Feb. 25 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
We used this book for a taxonomies course in my Library Science program and it's excellent for learning about concept theory and how that might be applied to designing concept structures where hierarchies must be considered (i.e. for web navigation design).
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem of a book Feb. 13 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Gregory Murphy begins this extraordinary book by saying, "Concepts are the glue that holds our mental world together". This is actually an understatement. Without concepts there would be no mental world in the first place. Concepts are mental representations that tie together specific instances, and are essential for relating ongoing experience to knowledge from the past. Concepts allow us to move from William James' "blooming buzzing confusion" to structured and adaptive thought.
Murphy is one of the leading scholars in this area, and he reviews a messy and complicated literature with honesty, clarity, and wit. This is going to be the classic text in the field for a very long time. It is one of the rare cases where the standard back-of-the-book blurb is actually true: Anyone seriously interested in concepts and categorization - seasoned researchers, graduates and advanced undergraduates, or scholars who simply want to get a sense of the field - really must read this book.
(Note: this is an excerpt from a review that was published in the journal "Nature")
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully detailed and informative book Jan. 10 2012
By A cognitive scientist - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The Big Book of Concepts is the best book on concepts since George Lakoff's Women, Fire and Dangerous Things, published 15 years earlier. I am a professional cognitive scientist and I first read this book a number of years ago. I recently needed to look something up on infant concept formation, so I reread the chapter called "Concepts in Infancy," and was reminded just how good the book is. It is crammed with so much information that it has the potential for being as dry as dust, but, happily, it is loaded with clear examples, and is written in such a fluid style that you tend to keep reading, even after you've found the item or reference or example you were looking for. The book includes in-depth discussions of everything from theories of what constitutes a concept, to how they develop, to how they are related to words, and to the role of computational modeling in concept understanding (the succinct description of Nosofsky's Generalized Context Model, pp. 65-71, is one of the clearest, simplest descriptions of that model around). In short, for people interested in concepts and categorization, this book is a must-have for their library.
4.0 out of 5 stars Great review Jan. 6 2014
By MR Brain - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful review. It is a little dry at times, and often repetitive. But it really does sum the material on concept theory. The Big Book of Concepts has been a valuable asset to my library.
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