While reading this paper I continuously thought about how hard it is to divorce categorization from language. I definitely think the Whorf Hypothesis has basis in which it claims the influence of language and culture on categories. For example, some cultures have many words for snow or for love, and how we express the concrete experience of participation or the abstract idea of caring for someone, can give us a different understanding of the circumstances. “Categorization, it seems, is a sensorimotor skill, though most of the weight is on the sensory part (and the output is usually categorical, i.e., discrete, rather than continuous); and, like all skills, it must be learned.”Thinking about categorization as a “sensorimotor skill” makes me wonder if some people lack this skill, if there are some people who have never learned certain categories or are less skilled in categorization. Like the way some people can lack the ability to learn how to dance, can some lack the ability to learn how to categorize? How I understand unsupervised learning is it may be ok for clearly different categories, but supervised learning is needed for the changing idea of the right category and differentiating between similar categories.
I’m still not sure I grasp the strong and weak versions of the Whorf-Sapir hypothesis. Let’s take a crack at it:Strong: Our categories are created by our language. In the example of colors, we see specific bands of color where they are in the spectrum because we’ve named these specific regions of the spectrum. Where the names get a bit loftier is where the boundaries between the major color bands become more tenuous. Weak: Our categories are mediated by language. This means that there may be enhanced color discrimination among the people who are employed by pantone to name colors. Because they have practice referring to finer explicit color categories, they may be able to notice smaller differences between colors. (Though I know this example suffers from increased exposure as well as verbal discrimination, I had a hard time coming up with others.)
I take back what I said last week! This paper is really long! Haha. But I really like it. There are a lot of points though which need to be addressed, but I will pick out what interests me most.For me, this paper is interesting because it defines categorization as follows:categorization is any systematic differential interaction between an autonomous, adaptive sensorimotor system and its worldAs per my understanding of Aristotle, he defines categorizing as knowing the genus, so for instance human’s genus is “animal”, and the species, i.e. “rational”. Other animals are categorized under the same genus. I am not sure, but I think he would prefer what you call the “ontic” side of categorization. And, again my Aristotle is really rough, but we know about categories through increased abstraction (i.e. finding universals). This process of abstraction can be learning, I suppose. In this regard, the Funes story told by you (so interesting! But also strangely tragic) is relevant.I think, maybe, the categorization defined by you is alluding to how we know both the species and the genus, not just the genus (category). So it’s more of how we place an individual within a genus-species.I also don’t think the capacity to categorize is learned. The categories themselves, the individuals within them, yes, but categorizing as a capacity is something our intellects are capable of beforehand.