Perspectives, compositionality and complex concepts

Braisby, Nick (2005). Perspectives, compositionality and complex concepts. In: Werning, Marcus; Machery, Edouard and Schurz, Gerhard eds. The Compositionality of meaning and content Vol. II: Applications to Linguistics, Psychology and Neuroscience, Volume 2. Frankfurt, Germany: Ontos Verlag, pp. 179–202.



Representational systems such as language, mind and perhaps even the brain exhibit a structure that is often assumed to be compositional. That is, the semantic value of a complex representation is determined by the semantic value of their parts and the way they are put together. Dating back to the late 19th century, the principle of compositionality has regained wide attention recently. Since the principle has been dealt with very differently across disciplines, the aim of the two volumes is to bring together the diverging approaches. They assemble a collection of original papers that cover the topic of compositionality from virtually all perspectives of interest in the contemporary debate. The well-chosen international list of authors includes psychologists, neuroscientists, computer scientists, linguists, and philosophers.
The second volume is devoted to issues of compositionality that arouse in the sciences of language, the investigation of the mind, and the modeling of representational brain functions. How could compositional languages evolve? How many sentences are needed to learn a compositional language? How does compositionality relate to the interpretation of texts, the generation of idioms and metaphors, and the understanding of aberrant expressions? What psychological mechanism underlies the combination of complex concepts? And finally, what neuronal structure can possibly realize a compositional system of mental representations?

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