The Abstraction Engine

Extracting patterns in language, mind and brain

Michael Fortescue | University of Copenhagen and St Hugh’s College, Oxford
ISBN 9789027213617 | EUR 95.00 | USD 143.00
ISBN 9789027265845 | EUR 95.00 | USD 143.00
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The main thesis of this book is that abstraction, far from being confined to higher forms of cognition, language and logical reasoning, has actually been a major driving force throughout the evolution of creatures with brains. It is manifest in emotive as well as rational thought. Wending its way through the various facets of abstraction, the book attempts to clarify – and relate – the often confusing meanings of the word ‘abstract’ that one may encounter even within the same discipline. The unusual synoptic approach, which draws upon research in psychology, neural network theory, child language acquisition, philosophy and consciousness studies, as well as a variety of linguistic disciplines, cannot be compared directly to other books on the market that touch upon just one particular aspect of abstraction. It is aimed at a wide readership – anyone interested in the nature of abstraction and the cognitive processing and purpose behind it. (series A)
[Advances in Consciousness Research, 94] 2017.  vi, 192 pp.
Publishing status: Available
Table of Contents
“Abstract, abstractness, abstraction: we know more or less what we mean by these terms. Or do we? Michael Fortescue, in this provocative and compelling book, analyzes types of abstraction and processes that involve them, in a wide-ranging survey of theories in linguistics, neuroscience, philosophy, and psychology; placing them in the context of cosmological and evolutionary considerations.”
“The ability to abstract patterns from the particular is central to human thought and language. In this important and engaging book, Fortescue argues convincingly that abstraction is the hallmark of human cognition. Both compelling and insightful, the book brings together different approaches and findings from across the language and cognitive sciences. The result is a new and exciting perspective on the not-so-small matter of what makes us so smart.”
“In sum, The Abstraction Engine is an impressive piece of work that thoroughly examines the importance of abstraction and projection in language, the mind and the brain. While hinging on one central concept, the book spreads out into an extensive discussion of abstraction as pertaining to various fields of scientific interest, including psychology, neuroscience, philosophy and various linguistic disciplines.”
Cited by

Cited by 6 other publications

Fortescue, Michael
2022. Quantum Cognition – Quantum Analogy. European Review 30:5  pp. 708 ff. DOI logo
Izzidien, Ahmed
2022. Word vector embeddings hold social ontological relations capable of reflecting meaningful fairness assessments. AI & SOCIETY 37:1  pp. 299 ff. DOI logo
Macqueen, Susy & Ute Knoch
2020. Chapter 4. Adaptive imitation. In Complex Dynamic Systems Theory and L2 Writing Development [Language Learning & Language Teaching, 54],  pp. 81 ff. DOI logo
Nikolaienko, Valeriia
2023. Patterns of evidentials use in dream narratives. Cognition, Communication, Discourse :26  pp. 109 ff. DOI logo
Vázquez Espinosa, Eliel & Tomás Felipe Cahuich Cahuich
2023. Análisis correlacional del razonamiento lógico abstracto y deductivo con el rendimiento académico en general y en el área matemática. RIEE | Revista Internacional de Estudios en Educación 23:2  pp. 87 ff. DOI logo
[no author supplied]

This list is based on CrossRef data as of 10 february 2024. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.


Consciousness Research

Consciousness research

Main BIC Subject

CFD: Psycholinguistics

Main BISAC Subject

LAN009040: LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / Psycholinguistics / General
ONIX Metadata
ONIX 2.1
ONIX 3.0
U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  2017004877 | Marc record