Concept

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A concept (abstract term: conception) is a cognitive unit of meaning—an abstract idea or a mental symbol sometimes defined as a "unit of knowledge," built from other units which act as a concept's characteristics. A concept is typically associated with a corresponding representation in a language or symbology[citation needed] such as a single meaning of a term.

There are prevailing theories in contemporary philosophy which attempt to explain the nature of concepts. The representational theory of mind proposes that concepts are mental representations, while the semantic theory of concepts (originating with Frege's distinction between concept and object) holds that they are abstract objects.[1] Ideas are taken to be concepts, although abstract concepts do not necessarily appear to the mind as images as some ideas do.[2] Many philosophers consider concepts to be a fundamental ontological category of being.

The meaning of "concept" is explored in mainstream cognitive science, metaphysics, and philosophy of mind. The term "concept" is traced back to 1554–60 (Latin conceptum - "something conceived"),[citation needed] but what is today termed "the classical theory of concepts" is the theory of Aristotle on the definition of terms.[citation needed]

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