Cover: Categories and Concepts, from Harvard University PressCover: Categories and Concepts in E-DITION

Categories and Concepts

Available from De Gruyter »

Product Details


$65.00 • £54.95 • €60.00

ISBN 9780674866270

Publication Date: 10/02/1981

203 pages



Related Subjects

Harvard University Press has partnered with De Gruyter to make available for sale worldwide virtually all in-copyright HUP books that had become unavailable since their original publication. The 2,800 titles in the “e-ditions” program can be purchased individually as PDF eBooks or as hardcover reprint (“print-on-demand”) editions via the “Available from De Gruyter” link above. They are also available to institutions in ten separate subject-area packages that reflect the entire spectrum of the Press’s catalog. More about the E-ditions Program »

Categories and Concepts is a comprehensive, critical guide to the most recent developments in the psychology of human concepts. The book supplies a badly needed tutorial review of the new theoretical, experimental, and philosophical work that has made the concept of concepts one of the most hotly debated current topics in psychology.

Edward Smith and Douglas Medin divide the debate into three fundamentally opposed views of concepts— views which they dub the classical, the probabilistic, and the exemplar views. They examine the assumptions underlying each view, the psychological models of the categorization process derived from these assumptions, and the major empirical findings accounted for by each model. This framework provides an extremely useful vehicle for evaluating the attack on the classical view that has come to be known as prototype theory. Smith and Medin show that there are, in fact, several major variants of prototype theory and that much of the confusion in the field can be resolved by identifying them.

Aided and abetted by recent work in philosophy and and computer science, cognitive psychology has attempted in the last decade to shake off the Aristotelian view of concepts that has dominated Western understanding of mind for millennia. Categories and Concepts makes a lucid assessment of this effort, both its successes and failures. The result is a book that will make an invaluable introduction to the field for students and an invaluable reference for experts.

Recent News

From Our Blog

Jacket, What Remains: Bringing America’s Missing Home from the Vietnam War, by Sarah Wagner, from Harvard University Press

Remembering Our Veterans during a Pandemic

Social distancing will make this Memorial Day quite different from what we are used to. Sarah Wagner, author of What Remains: Bringing America’s Missing Home from the Vietnam War, shows the way she’s chosen to remember and honor veterans during these challenging times. Dispatch from DC: Memorial Day weekend in the nation’s capital will be different this year. No motorcycles rumbling around the Nati

‘manifold glories of classical Greek and Latin’

The digital Loeb Classical Library ( extends the founding mission of James Loeb with an interconnected, fully searchable, perpetually growing virtual library of all that is important in Greek and Latin literature.