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Eleanor Rosch über Kategorienbildung

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Eleanor Rosch (Foto:, die mit ihrer„Prototypentheorie” wesentliche Beiträge zum Verständnis der Kategorienbildung beim Menschen geleistet und dieses Thema damit aus den philosophischen Logik-Diskursen herausgeführt hat, ist hierzulande am ehesten über ihre Zusammenarbeit mit Francisco Varela (“Der mittlere Weg der Erkenntnis“) bekannt geworden. C. Otto Scharmer hat sie 1999 über ihr Leben, ihre Arbeit und ihre Hinwendung zum Buddhismus in einem schönen Interview befragt, das auf der website zu lesen ist. Rosch:„categorization is one of the most basic functions of living creatures. We live in a categorized world — table, chair, male, female, democracy, monarchy — every object and event is unique, but we act towards them as members of classes. Prior to my work, categories and concepts were simply assumed, from philosophy, to be something explicit and formal, that is, to be arbitrary logical sets with defining features and clear-cut boundaries. This is what is now called the classical view of categories, which comes down from Aristotle through Locke and the British empiricists. In a nutshell it’s the idea that categories and concepts are matters of logic; they are clearly bounded sets; something either is or is not in the category. It is in the category if it has certain defining features, and if it doesn’t, then it’s outside the category. When psychologists did research on concept learning, they used artificial concepts and sets of artificial stimuli that were constructed so that they formed little micro-worlds in which those prevailing beliefs about the nature of categories were already built in. Then they’d do their learning experiments. But what they found out in terms of the nature of categories was already a foregone conclusion because that was what they had already built into it. (…) For most categories nobody would argue that there’s a clear physiological basis, and you wouldn’t expect the content of the categories to be universal. What is universal, I argued, was the structure of categories and the processes by which category systems are formed. Categories have what I called a graded structure of better and worse examples, and many categories have unclear boundaries. Categories have prototypical best examples which get formed in various ways, but for any category, absolutely any category, and for people in all cultures where this has been done, if you ask them if X or Y is a better example of their concept of Z, they will cheerfully tell you which is better, just as you did for the color red“
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