The Genesis and Evolution of Concepts within the Evolution of Cognition:
Presentation to the Protolang II conference, Torun, Poland, 19 September 2011
This talk presents an overdue account, within the domain of theories of concepts in philosophy of mind, of the phylogenetic evolution of concepts, based on Merlin Donald's work (1993, 2001) on the evolution of cognition. I begin by saying what I take concepts to be (roughly) and taking a position on the relationship between concepts and language (I take the two to pull apart). I proceed through Donald's four stages of cognitive-cultural evolution one stage at a time, showing how conceptual abilities, as I have defined them, do not require any of the four stages to have been met but, at the same time, are progressively and, in some ways, fundamentally transformed by each of them. The paper, as currently written, does not make a great deal of reference to current empirical research, a shortcoming I am keen to address in the discussion afterward.