pg. 17: Categorising the world
Together with many other higher-level organisms, humans are categorising beings. We categorise all objects and events we encounter in the environment. Categorisation is necessary for action, and it is essential for survival.
The categorisation of objects and events is taking place unconsciously most of the time. It is also a remarkably fast cognitive process. But despite the routine nature of categorisation, it is not easy to explain what is happening in our heads when we categorise. Indeed, there are several competing theories to account for how we do it.
The conceptual categories we establish are the backbone of language and thought. Much of our meaning-making capacity depends on the system of conceptual categories we acquire.
pg. 21: Prototype categorisation
pg. 35: One of our most essential abilities to survive is the ability to categorise the objects and events around us. By creating conceptual categories we make sense of the world; when we encounter new objects and events we assign them to already existing categoriesor create new ones to accommodate them. A large part of meaning making involves the process of categorisation and the products of this process - conceptual categories. We set up and use categories unconsciously and without any effort to most of the time. Thus, meaning making is also an unconscious and effortless activity most of the time.
How do we mentally represent categories in the heads?
The classical model is based on the rule-like definitions of categories that operate with what are called semantic features. (Boe: denotation)
The model of prototype categorisation claims that instead of necessary and sufficient conditions. Categories are represented in the mind as prototypes, or best examples, for categories. These consist of an abstract idealisation of category members. Categories defined by prototypes do not share a single essential set of features. Members of a category held together by what Wittgenstein called "familiy resemblance" to a prototype.
Kövecses - Introduction