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7 Definitions

As mentioned, in this chapter I try to describe the notion concept as accurately as possible. However, reading this chapter is not necessary for a good understanding. The reader who has no need for definitions and no affinity for logical notations can skip this chapter without any problems.

 

7.1 The experience flow

Like in the previous chapter, I build up the notion of concept in a number of steps. I start at the beginning, with the current impressions that constantly occur to me, as yet without interpretations. I'll call it the experience flow.

7.1. The flow of experience is the totality of impressions that occur to me at a moment

 

7.1.1. Impressions have a different origin, they can come from my inner world or, through my senses, from the outer world

 

7.1.2. Some of the impressions reach me through my senses from the outside world


I experience many impressions as coming through my senses from outside myself. Especially eyes and ears offer enormous amounts of impressions which I experience as coming from the outside.

7.1.3. Another part of the impressions is coing out of myself

 
I also experience many impressions of which I am certain they are coming out of myself, although possibly caused by events outside myself: feelings, emotions, thoughts, fantasies, dreams, etc.

7.1.4. Some of the impressions originate from my inner world while they, just like experiences from the outside world, can be localized as coming from a certain area of my body

 
Feelings of pain originate evidently from my own body. But unlike thoughts and emotions they are localized and I can localize them as, for example, headaches or pain in my ankle.

7.1.5. All senses contribute to the experience flow

The experience flow is complex, all the senses contribute constantly. Traditionally designated senses such as sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste each provide a permanent flow of experiences, which does not mean at all times I am aware of all sensory contributions. In modern science more senses are distinguished and is questioned whether such a discrete distinction can be made. However this question is of no importance here, the experiential flow contains all the sensory impressions.

7.1.6 The experience flow is constantly changing

 
I am able to concentrate my consciousness on certain parts of my experience flow. I will mention this focussing. Because I often focus on what I experience as objects, it seems as if the experience flow is connected with time. For example, I see a chair and get the impression that the experience flow is also stationary for a while. But if I, while looking at the chair, rather than concentrate on the chair, focus on all other impressions that occur to me, it is immediately clear the entire flow of impressions is constantly changing.

In an express train I drive through an unknown landscape. While the image of the clouds and the mountains remains almost constant in the distance, the near landscape changes faster, while the houses close to the railroad track pass very fast away and the poles of the overhead line only flash before my eye. During that whole time the sound of the wheels on the rails remains about the same and for a short time I taste the bittersweet taste when I eat a piece of chocolate. Suddenly I hear a voice saying "your tickets please". I turn to the train conductor coming into the compartment, whereupon I no longer see the landscape and only think of the question where I left my ticket. I imagine myself in the station and try to remember where I stopped it. As soon as I remember (I see it before me) I grab in my pocket where I find the ticket indeed. I feel relief, turn the ticket over to the conductor, next look again out of the window. In the meantime all mountains have disappeared, I only see the water of a large lake, my eyes being drawn to a water skier pulled on one ski... etc.

The example shows that the mind constantly interprets. I think it quite normal the clouds and the mountains in the distance remains almost stationary, while the landscape with houses moves much faster and the poles of the railway flash by. That in itself could be a confusing combination of impressions, but it is experienced as self-evident and fully automatically interpreted as I myself in the train moving through in the landscape. Even a simple selfmade cartoon with a car standing still in front of a moving row of trees is experienced as if the car drives along the stillstanding trees.

The example also shows that man, or rather his mind, create continuity in the experiential flow. As soon as I hear a voice in the above example saying "your tickets please", I immediately search my train ticket to turn it to the train conductor. At that moment, I do not see changes in the landscape outside because I focus on the conductor. Once he is gone, I see the landscape again, which has now changed completely. But I do not conclude I'm in a different train, no, I realize immediately the landscape has changed, the train has left the mountains and is now driving past a lake, nothing special! Without noticing it myself, my mind creates a continuum which is not located in the experiential flow itself.

7.1.7. The experience flow itself is discontinuous


The mind has a powerful set of instruments to provide a certain degree of continuity in that discontinuous, erratic and suddenly changing stream. Even scene changes in a film, which offer a completely different picture from one moment to the next, are, if arranged (psycho)logically, experienced as a continuous scene. Which is the work of the mind, the experience flow itself is discontinuous and capricious.

7.1.8. The experience flow is partly manipulable

 
I'm able to manipulate my experience flow in many ways. I can open or close my eyes or turn my head. Outside of me I can make changes that influence my experience flow. In a room I can turn the light on or off. Or I can hit my thumb with a hammer. In general, all my actions lead to changes in the experiential flow.

However, there are also impressions that occur to me which I can't influence. For example, I have no way of preventing it from getting dark when the night comes in, unless I go to a light-tight room.
In other words: I can partly manipulate my experience flow, but I can not manipulate every aspect of my experience flow at any moment.

7.1.9 By focusing, I concentrate my attention on a part of the experience flow

 
At one particular moment I am not aware of my entire experience flow. I constantly focus on a part of it. I look at a tree, feel if my foot still hurts, hear a plane come over, think of my sick niece.

7.1.10 The experience flow can not be experienced as a whole

 
Focusing is the only way to get the experience flow into my consciousness.

It's like living in a dark cave with as only lighting a spotlight that can illuminate a piece of the wall. I can highlight every part of the cave but never see the cave in its entirety.

7.2 The experience space

7.2.1 The whole of all possible impressions I call my experience space


The concept of 'experience space' I enter here as a theoretical auxiliary construction which makes it possible to define the concept of pattern. It does not correspond to any actual experience. Thus the experience space is not the physical four-dimensional spatio-temporal world I know. Every sense delivers experiences which are completely independent from each other.

I hear a bird chirping, search with my eyes if I can find it. Then I see a nightingale. I close my eyes to enjoy his song.
The sound in this example continues permanently while the view changes. Sound and vision are apparently independent, which also applies to the impressions produced by the other senses.

Apart from the impressions that reach me through my senses, I experience many other impressions: thoughts, emotions, fantasies, dreams, arguments, etc. Impressions that are, at least partly, independent of the sensory impressions and of each other.
The fact the theoretical space of experience thus defined has no correspondence with the known physical space is also apparent from the number of dimensions. While our physically experienced space has three dimensions (usually called x, y, and z) and the time can be added as a fourth dimension, the number of dimensions of the experience space is equal to the number of senses to be distinguished plus an unknown and possibly not to determine number of independent sources of experience in ourselves (thoughts, emotions, etc.). I'll not go further on this issue, since the experience space is only introduced for further definition purposes.
So:

7.2.2. I do not experience the experience space as such


The experience space is just a construction to simplify the definition of patterns and concepts below.

7.2.3. The experience space contains at least as many dimensions as the number of senses


As indicated, the experiences from different senses are independent, which means they function as independent dimensions in the experience space. How big that number is and whether the number can be determined at all I don't want to put up for discussion here.

7.2.4. The experience space is not limited to physically possible experiences


The experience space is broadly defined as the whole of possible impressions, not limited to those which are factually realized. Every combination of possible sensory and non-sensory impressions is part of the experience space, regardless of whether such a combination obeys physical laws.

7.2.5. An actual experience is a point in the experience space


I live in the 'now'. In it I can have an actual experience consisting of a number of sensory impressions, instead also impressions my mind produces itself, for example thoughts, memories and fantasies.

7.3 Pattern recognition in two steps

As argued in the previous chapter, if programming for Artificial Intelligence one is confronted with the fact that two steps are essential for recognizing patterns. For example, if one wants a camera image, a piece of handwriting or a spoken text to be recognized by a computer, one writes an algorithm that basically contains two steps: 1) creating a structure out of the information provided and 2) recognizing that structure by comparing it with already known structures. Incidentally, for these kinds of tasks special programs are being used that simulate neural networks on a digital computer, a method that resemble the brain more than traditional programs. In these networks, both processes of pattern forming and pattern recognition are often executed in one stroke. However, this only works if it is known in advance what kind of information will be offered as input. For example, such networks are used in handwriting recognition where it is necessary for the input to represent one of the letters of the alphabet. If in that situation a picture of a film star in bikini would be offered, then the network would not know what to do with it, nor would it get excited by it. In other words, the choice of the patterns to be formed is essentially predetermined by the creators of the network, the network only needs to recognize it. In general, AI programs so far only work in relatively simple and predetermined environments.

Bolletjes 53An example from a test for color blindness. In the foursquare with colored balls you can see three structures. First, light and dark purple balls that alternate. One has to look closely to see that each light ball has a dark purple ball as left and right, bottom and top neighbor, and vice versa. A structure that says nothing, does not provide any recognition. In addition, there is a structure of alternating light and dark blue dots in which one immediately sees the figure 'five' and a structure of alternating light and dark green dots that are recognized as the number 'three'. Suppose instead of the number 53 in green and blue circles a simple Chinese character would have been applied, then a Chinese would immediately recognize that, whereas Europeans only see a structure without any meaning for them.

This example shows that, although in normal life one is surrounded by images one immediately recognizes, situations may occur in which patterns occur that are not recognizable.
Based on this introspective observation, I define the concepts 'patterns' and 'types'.

7.4 Patterns

7.4.1 A pattern P is a limited collection of areas in the experience space that present themselves to me as cohesive


The coherence automatically occurs to me, however, why that happens is not known a priori. Partly it seems coherence is caused by learning experiences in the course of my life, partly caused by inherited factors. In whatever way caused or arisen, the fact that an amount of areas in the experience space forms a pattern is determined solely by the fact that I experience these points as cohesive.

A pattern is limited with respect to all dimensions of the experience space, so all kinds of sensory and mental experiences. 'The ashtray on my desk', my 'headache', 'a flashing lightning', 'a football that goes into the goal' are examples of patterns.

Aside. To give examples of patterns I use terms from the natural language as 'ashtray', 'headache' or 'lightning'. However, due to the definition given, it is actually not possible to give an example of a pattern in the natural language. The term 'ashtray' has a much broader meaning in the normal language than a set of points in the experience space. Further in this chapter the notion of 'concepts' is introduced, which do correspond to objects in the natural language. In the natural language, and therefore in thought, the concept of 'pattern' as defined here has no place. Until the notion concept has been introduced, if I want to mention examples of patterns, I am forced to point out objects. The essential mistake that is made with this I take for granted; once the notion concept has been introduced, this problem will no longer occur.

7.4.2. The collection of points that form a pattern changes constantly, but as long as the pattern occurs, I experience the changes as continuous


I experience a pattern as cohesive. This also applies to time. For example, if I see a train passing by, the collection of experience points constantly changes: distance, light, angle, loudness, position in relation to the surrounding landscape, etc. However, I experience the passing train as one pattern.

7.4.3. A pattern covers one or more dimensions of the experience space


The pain I feel in my foot is a pattern according to the definition.

7.4.4. A pattern is not an image of something in 'reality'


In the normal language and as a general philosophical conception, a pattern in the world of experience is seen as an image of an object in the outer reality or as a structure existing outside myself. It should be clear that the definition of the notion of pattern used here has its origins only in the experiences that have occurred to me in the past and in the structure that my mind has created itself one way or another. There is no question of an existing external world in this definition, in particular of an external world that imposes its structure on me.

7.4.5. Non-sensory patterns occur to me, patterns that do not reach me through my senses


For example, non-sensory patterns are thoughts, reasonings, dreams, memories, fantasies.

7.4.6. A pattern may occur to me involuntarily, but I can consciously focus on a pattern too


Whether at a certain moment a pattern occurs to me is determined by both the experience flow at that moment and by my focus.

7.4.7. A pattern is discrete and finite in time


This can also be formulated differently:

7.4.8. Each pattern arises at a certain moment and disappears again


For example, I see the pattern of a chair. A bit later I can not see it anymore because I look into a other direction or walk away. If the next day, I think I see the same chair, it is a new pattern according to the definition, regardless of whether, as is usually assumed in the real world, it is the same chair. After all, a pattern is limited, also in time. The fact that, now that I see a chair, I still connect with the chair I saw the previous day, indicates that both belong to the same concept, as will be defined in the next chapter.

7.4.9. A pattern doesn't have to be sharply limited


If I experience a pattern P, most areas in the experience space will not belong to P next to areas that do belong to P. However, there may also be areas whereof it is not clear whether or not they belong to P. The same applies to time: there are time periods that the pattern does not yet manifest itself and periods when the pattern no longer manifests itself. And at least a period when the pattern is experienced. However, there may also be times when it is not clear to me whether or not I am experiencing the pattern. For example: it rains, that rain turns next into drizzle and then into fog. At the moment there is only fog, I know it doesn't rain anymore, but it's impossible to determine the exact boundary between the different patterns. This fundamental indeterminacy is an essential aspect of the human knowledge system. However, it has no place in logic, neither in classical nor in modal logic.

Scientists solve this 'problem' of indeterminacy or blur by devising discrete definitions. For example, in Western Europe meteorologist define a summer day as a 24-hour period in which the maximum temperature is at least 25.0 ⁰Celsius, 77.0 ⁰Fahrenheit . According to the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, a day in the middle of the summer with a maximum of 24.9 degrees is not a summer day, whereas the 10th of October of the year 1921 in De Bilt was one. Presumably this is not entirely in line with the experiences one has with the concept of summer day. Certainly it is doubtful whether Mary Oliver in her poem 'The Summer day' did keep an eye on the maximum temperature:

The Summer Day

Who made the world?Mary Oliver
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver

In any case, I have reached a point at which the conceptual approach, which exclusively takes my experiences as a starting point, is fundamentally opposed to traditional logic, philosophy and science. Those are based on discrete states (in reality) and considers the uncertainty of a perception as a shortcoming of the human cognitive system. Even the modal logic and the probability theory consider indeterminacy as failure of the human knowledge. It is possible a proposition is true or there is a chance that a proposition is true. But indeterminacy of the truth does not occur in such systems, whereas it does occur frequently in the human experience.

Someone says 'This vase is beautiful'. Unfortunately I do not know how to react to that, I don't know if I really like that vase. Many philosophical works, devoted to aesthetics, try to find objective answers for questions about beautiful and ugly. Cognitive psychologists will possibly set up an experiment in which subjects will see a slide of the vase for one second, then have to press a button 'beautiful' or a button 'ugly'. If a significantly larger number of test subjects press the 'beautiful' button the vase is beautiful, in the culture of the subjects. Poor me still doesn't know if I like the vase.

7.4.10. A pattern can change into one or more other patterns


If the pattern of a chair occurs to me, I can focus on the wooden legs, thereafter on the wicker seat and next on that one reed strand which is broken and loose. And so on.

7.4.11. Patterns can overlap in the experience space


For example, a blue chair in a kitchen.

7.4.12. A pattern may contain other patterns


For example, the cushion on the seat of the blue chair

7.4.13. A number of patterns together can form a pattern


A number of patterns of 'street clinkers' together form the pattern 'road'

7.4.13. More patterns can occur to me at the same time


I can see the blue chair and at the same time feel pain in my foot.

A pattern is a structure that actually realizes to me in the infinite experience space. However, that structure is not fixed and does not consist of discrete elements given from the outside. It is and remains an order I apply (or rather: my mind applies) to the multitude of experiences which occur to me. On the one hand because I'm able to (partly) manipulate the flow of experience, on the other hand because I can focus on different parts within the actual experience flow. The possibility of experiencing different patterns in the experience flow seems to be unlimited. So much so that, if there were no mechanisms that would structure and order, man would be confronted with an amorphous amount of patterns with which nothing could be started. Fortunately, the mind is very competent in organizing and structuring impressions.

A first level of ordering is the similarity I experience between different patterns, both between patterns I experience at the same time and between patterns I have experienced in the past. To name this agreement, I borrow a term from geometry: congruence.

7.5 Congruent patterns

7.5.1. Two patterns are congruent if I experience them as equal or similar


The pain in my ulcerated toe is like the pain in the ulcer on my arm long ago. The millions of gravel stones on which I walk are similar. The taste of the coffee I drink is similar to that of all previous cups of coffee that I have drunk in my life. "a + b = c" is congruent with "r = p + q", the Pythagorean theorem corresponds to the formula a2 + b2 = c2, the proposition "it rains" is congruent with "it pours of rain".

7.5.2. The degree of congruence between two patterns can vary from weak to strong, depending on the degree of similarity I experience

 

7.5.3. In the case of weak congruity, the patterns are somewhat similar. Patterns I experience as being (almost) equal are strong congruent

 

7.5.4. Congruent patterns can occur to me at one moment 

7.5.5. A pattern P0 now occurring to me may be congruent to a pattern P-1 which occurred to me in the past

 

7.6 Types

I now arrive at the following concept:  together patterns can form a type in my mind. With the notion 'type' I indicate congruent patterns I have experienced in the past have created something in my mind, a number of aspects that immediately occur to me as soon as I experience a corresponding pattern. In order to describe this, I need the element of time. However, time is not a direct experience, man has no sense for it, one always only lives in the moment. From the fact I'm able to recognize things, I may conclude my mind in one way or another creates a kind of notion of time. Although a type itself doesn't contain a time element, in order to define and describe it, I need a form of time format. I use the following symbols: P0 represents a pattern I experience in the present. P-1, P-2, in general P-n represent patterns I have experienced in the past, where n indicates whether the pattern was experienced earlier or later. For example, the experience of the pattern P-9 is longer ago than that of the pattern P-8 or P-5.

7.6.1 Remembering and recognizing

If in the past I have experienced a pattern P-1 it is possible I remember it now, at time T0. This is a concrete, specific pattern. Often I remember all sorts of circumstances that happened at the same time. Apparently the pattern is stored in my mind in one way or another, so that it is possible to entirety recall it again. Recalling doesnt have to be a conscious activity, it usually comes on its own. In that case one says I remember the pattern. Remembering means as much as fetching a pattern once experienced in the past.
However, another phenomenon also occurs. When I experience a certain pattern, I usually recognize many aspects in it, both the pattern as a whole and various parts of it. Recognizing is connecting the new experience to past experiences, apparently stored by my mind.

Both in remembering and in recognizing, experiences from the past are brought up into my mind. However, there is a real difference. Remembering is one specific experience of a pattern in the past that appears, as it were, out of my mind. In recognition, on the other hand, no completely experienced patterns are brought to the surface, only certain aspects of it, which are bound to corresponding aspects of the pattern P0 which I now experience. When I see an image of a book I immediately recognize a book there, without reminding which books I have seen before in my life. If someone hands me a book, without me being able to see it, I've to feel it first, then I clearly experience it as a book. So both a visual and a tactile experience can bring up the concept of 'book' with me.

This means at the same time my mind does record both concrete patterns and components of it, as in the example visual and tactile elements. Aspects I can't remember separately apparently are stored in my mind. Those stored components must be highly elementary, stripped of all kinds of specific qualities. After all, if I recognize the visual image of the book I now experience, that image will usually not be exactly the same as any book I have seen before in my life. A bound book looks and feels different from a paperback, yet I will immediately recognize a book in both.

While memories are always specific, thus involve a one-off experienced pattern, recognizing can be both specific and general. From a number of experiences I can conclude something is a book (general), and possibly also recognize which specific book it is. This is even more apparent when I recognize a person: I recognize someone by a face, body posture or voice without having memories of the occasions I met that person. I also observe changes, for example if that person is wearing new glasses.

I conclude from this there are two distinct ways experienced patterns are stored: a concrete experience of a specific experienced pattern and apart from it a number of general components of the experienced pattern. The latter may already be stored if a certain pattern is experienced only once, but will generally be formed by repeatedly experienced corresponding, congruent patterns. It is precisely through the frequent experience of congruent patterns that these components will acquire their elementary character: only that what they have in common will remain in the mind as a stored element, in the long run all kinds of particular details will disappear after experiencing more similar patterns.
Thus, in the mind, corresponding elementary components are stored from series of experienced matching patterns. I'll call these stored components types [1].

7.6.1. All patterns P-1… P-n that occurred to me in the past and are mutually congruent formed the types T1...m{P-1, …. P-n}


To determine the nature of an object, a natural scientist often needs a complicated set of instruments. For example take a coin of one Euro. If I want to record scientifically whether a certain item is a coin of one Euro, I havo to define it completely. The fact I see such a coin in it is not enough, I can be mistaken or a counterfeiter could have been at work. I have to describe exactly what the currency looks like together with all exact dimensions (inclusive all variants from the different EU countries). Next I have to indicate the two metals the coin consists of and I have to give a method how to determine whether the currency really consists of those metals, for which I need the data of density and chemical analysis.

It is clear the human conceptual system, if one identifies an object as a coin of one Euro, operates differently and much faster. Of course mistakes can easily be made, however that's the way the human mind works. I already noted that I, unlike many scientists and philosophers, don't see this characteristic as a shortcoming of the mind, rather as an essential aspect of the functioning of the human conceptual system.

7.7 The definition of the notion 'concept'

Four concepts have now been introduced:

  • Experience flow, the whole of the concrete experiences which reach me at the moment
  • Experience space, a theoretically defined abstract space
  • Pattern, a structure the mind forms in the experience space
  • Type, a state in my mind formed by experiencing similar patterns in the past, consisting of a number of corresponding components of those patterns

Let's consider again the example of the coin of one Euro. If someone, who is familiar with the term, hears or reads the word 'Euro', a number of associations emerge immediately and automatically. Which associations actually appear depends on the person and his past and recent experiences with the concept. When the Euro was in a crisis that generated a lot of publicity and uncertainty about income and pensions, for many people the concept of 'crisis' came up as the first association, `while the treasurer of the church board who counts the contents of the collection bags on Sunday afternoon. possibly get other associations. Many different types are possible, to name a few:

  • the optical image of the currency of one Euro in different positions (Type T1)
  • the value of a Euro in the course of trade (Type T2)
  • the composition of the coin from white and yellow metal (Type T3)
  • the sound the coin makes, eg when it is thrown into a vending machine (Type T4)
  • the sign € (Type T5)
  • the currency in a number of European countries since January 2002 (Type T6)
  • the sound /ˈjʊə.rəʊ/ (T7)
  • the word "Euro", written (T8)
    and so on.

The numbering T1 to T8 is arbitrary and only indicates it concerns separate types. All such types can, as far as they are part of my mind, appear as associations when hearing the sound /ˈjʊə.rəʊ/ or when reading the word "Euro". Such associations come up every moment, fully automatically and independent of the will, without the need for any noticeable effort, even if one should not want to get such associations.

A test is easy to perform by taking a random sentence in a newspaper or book and choosing the first noun from it. The moment I write this I do the test with a newspaper that is lying next to me, in which my eye falls on the word 'parish'. I immediately see a pastor, a presbytery, a monastery, a Catholic church building and sexual abuse of boys in a catholic boarding school. (The latter because of the many revelations in the media during the period in which this text was written.)

The emergence of associations has a certain degree of reciprocity. Suppose two types Tn and Tm are both part of a concept. Suppose at some point Tn is realized in one way or another, as a result of which I am confronted with it, then there is a chance P (n → m) that Tm immediately emerges as an association through the realization of Tn. Conversely, Tn can also emerge as an association when Tm is realized. However, the probability that this happens, P (m → n), will generally not be equal to the probability of the reverse order. Either P (n → m) ≠ P (m → n).

The example of my term 'parish' shows this phenomenon. With the word 'presbytery', the associations 'pastor' and 'catholic church building' do emerge, but not the term 'parish', whereas the reverse did take place. In other words: the association opportunity between two types is generally not symmetrical.
From these and countless comparable observations which can be made everyday, one has to conclude in the mind concepts are interconnected in such a way that the realization of one term immediately evokes associations with the other notion. In other words: different, completely independent types can be connected in the mind. Such a connection I'll call a 'concept', which leads to the following definition:

7.7.1. A 'concept' C is a dynamic collection of different types which are connected in the mind


We examine this definition in more detail. What does it mean a concept consists of different types? Could a concept exist that only contains the type T1? It could mean if you see a coin of one Euro you only get an association with the image of a one Euro piece. Furthermore, no other. So you have no idea that the money you can buy something with, you have no word (= name) for it, the feeling of something thin, metallic rounds does not lead to any association, and so on. Your concept would then have no function at all.

Another example. Suppose someone possesses a concept of a certain written word that is exclusively associated with the pronunciation of that same word and its translation in some world languages. Then he would know a word that has no meaning or function for him. Of course one can come up with a brand new word, including translations in other languages, even then at least one association is linked to it, namely the fact of the creating and the memory of it. Storing types in the mind is only useful if a number of different types are connected to each other. The power of the mind lies in being able to connect different types, thus creating concepts. This connection makes experiences now and in the past useful and forms the foundation on which the entire human cognitive system is built.

The definition of concept also includes the notion 'dynamic collection'. A concept is not a closed but an open collection, in the sense new types can always be added to the collection. This may concern old faded ones that seemed to have disappeared from memory, but also new types that, although hitherto unknown, are added to the concept. Incidentally, the types themselves also change over time through the repeated experience of congruent but not identical patterns.

In the following chapters, I will further examine the meaning of the definition.

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[1] The name type is chosen here for practical reasons and is not directly related to the use of the term in the type-token distinction as used in philosophy.