on February 13, 2004
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")