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 An insight on the categorization process and vertical thinking II

Reality around us is a continuous kaleidoscope of stimulating perceptive stimuli.
Our senses are constantly active, sensitive to any changes in our environment: images, sounds, movements...

Every object or environmental event presents multiples attributes relative to formal  or functional qualities.

Our mind would be  completely overwhelmed if, since the first phases of development, it couldn't start to organize this ocean of stimulations into schemes, progressively and always more articulated and complex, with which we manage the connection  with material and relational environment.

Therefore, at the basis of the development of all cognitive and psychological  processes, there is the ability to operate on stimuli and to organize them in categories. Such a process takes place on the basis of the rules that evolve with development.

Categorization processes start before the processes of analogical association of characteristics or attributes, when thinking is still illogical in some aspects. Only after 6-7 years with the development of concrete operational thinking, the rules for categorization processes are dictated by the
principles of logic.

How do events categories created on the basis of analogical analysis processes and those created on the basis of a logical analysis process, differ?

The first are created by the individual on the basis of
noticing a single common characteristic from several objects: an object is included in a category only because of having the specific abstract characteristic identified, while all other characteristics are ignored.

Therefore, the identified characteristic will be the only one to define the category or concept, that will be assigned to objects or events that could even be very inhomogeneous between them.

For instance, a 3-4 years old kid could call "cat" any four legged animal, independently of any other characteristic, and thus in this category also a lion could  be included. The same way, a poet could closely relate in his expressions two events, however unassociated, simply to evoke a feeling that could suggest an analogy between them.

Instead, the categories of events created on the basis of logical analysis processes, are defined from the presence of specific attributes, which establish for these events the inclusion/exclusion criteria. Such attributes are identified, anyway, at the end of a series of cognitive processes, such as discrimination, analysis and abstraction.

The human mind surveys the environment's data and information on its manifold characteristics, in order to distinguish those specific to every event, and to notice and conceptualize those that, instead, associate them. Such characteristics will become distinctive and afterwards will be generalized to every element considered in a specific context.

The conceptualization process regards the natural and social elements of the world, and the relations between them (of spatial, temporal, cause-effect, classification types, etc.).

Every conceptualization always implies a simplification of reality and therefore a loss of information. Besides, it is always referred to a  semantic context, that is, it is valid or well-founded inside the context in which the individual had the experience.

That's why the experience elaborated by everyone is always
relative, though always objective, logical and shareable.


The logical categorization process develops in a system characterized by a vertical dimension and a horizontal dimension.

The first refers to a category inclusiveness level, that can be considered as superordinated, basic or subordinated. The concept "furniture", for instance, is inclusive of "chair", that itself includes that of "rocking chair". The vertical dimension can be more or less large, depending on categories.

The horizontal dimension, instead, distinguishes from different concepts at the same level of inclusiveness. For instance CD and videocassette belong to the same level of generality, that of memory support.

The logical categorization process is at the basis not only of concepts detection, but also of our reasoning structure: this indicates the coordinates within which we can operate logically, in formal and abstract thinking and in everyday thinking.

Behind the reasoning thread there's a process of more or less logical categorization, depending on the way we think.

While lateral thinking creates categories formed prevailingly on the basis of analogical association processes, vertical thinking creates conceptual categories and  relations defined on the basis of the principles of logical analysis.

In everyday thinking, it often happens that both ways of reasoning are mixed, whereby to correct forms of syllogistic reasoning may follow an unreasonable generalization, as in stereotypes.

However, only through the use of logical conceptual and relational categories thinking can produce shareable and communicable mental representations.

Logical categories form the common denominators of  more or less vast groups of objects and relations, characterized by a more or less high interindividual variability. Objects and relations are defined precisely, based on their corresponding logical categories, the categories they belong to.  

When referred to, objects and relations can be the objects of  cognitive communication between subjects that, sharing the knowledge about such logical categories, are able to understand the meaning of communication.

Implementing concepts categorization in the construction and analysis of concept maps is materialized in Knowledge Master very simply in concept types management.

Categorization is a principal function of conceptualization.


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