The general meaning given to a word or a set of words
According to E. BUCHBERGER: "A concept is an ordering representation of what are considered to be the necessary and sufficient characteristics of a set of objects" (1987, p.77). An example is "dog" as a general term applied to numerous different animals, all of whom however share some common characteristics.
These definitions conceal tricky semantic problems, on different levels: psychological, social and cultural.
J.Z. YOUNG thus expresses the psychological one, defining the concept as: "The learned program for the use of a word or a set of words" (1978, p.291). The word "learned" conveys perfectly PIRANDELLO's quip according to which we "merely chew again the dialogue of the dead ones" (in "Henry IV"). As to the social aspect, no concept has ever a communication value if not commonly accepted as such and validated by recurrent consensus through conversation "a la PASK".
The cultural aspect has been considered by M. MARUYAMA in his studies on "mindscapes" (1966, etc.). Transcultural consensus on concepts is even more difficult and insecure than the social consensus within a same culture. This could be called the "semantic declination ", somehow analogous to the magnetic declination.
In any case, as stated by K. KRIPPENDORFF: "Concepts are neither true nor false, but more or less applicable (a) to recognize an object as an instance of the concept (recognition), (b) to produce or to understand sentences in which the concept is expressed and (c) to develop constructs or cognitive systems using the concept in question" (1986, p.14).
To round off, WITIGENSTEIN's pun: "Concept" is a vague concept"(as quoted by EDELMAN, 1992, chapter 10th' epigraph) is quite more than a pun.
- 1) General information
- 2) Methodology or model
- 3) Epistemology, ontology and semantics
- 4) Human sciences
- 5) Discipline oriented
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Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (2020). Title of the entry. In Charles François (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics (2). Retrieved from www.systemspedia.org/[full/url]
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