Sociality during the acquisition of abstract and concrete concepts

Sociality influences both concrete and abstract concepts acquisition and representation, but in different ways. Here we propose that sociality is crucial during the acquisition of abstract concepts but less for concrete concepts, that have a bounded perceptual referent and can be learned more autonomously. For the acquisition of abstract concepts, instead, the human relation would be pivotal in order to master complex meanings. Once acquired, concrete words can act as tools, able to modify our sensorimotor representation of the surrounding environment. Indeed, pronouncing a word the referent of which is distant from us we implicitly assume that, thanks to the contribution of others, the object becomes reachable; this would expand our perception of the near bodily space. Abstract concepts would modify our sensorimotor representation of the space only in the earlier phases of their acquisition, specifically when the child represents an interlocutor as a real, physical “ready to help actor” who can help her in forming categories and in explaining the meaning of words that do not possess a concrete referent. Once abstract concepts are acquired, they can work as social tools: the social metacognition mechanism (awareness of our concepts and of our need of the help of others) can evoke the presence of a “ready to help actor” in an implicit way, as a predisposition to ask information to fill the knowledge gaps.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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