Distinctions, Systems, Relationships, Perspectives: The Simple Rules of Complex Conceptual Systems: A Universal Descriptive Grammar of Cognition

Derek A. Cabrera


The creation, acquisition, and development of concepts is broadly relevant to the arts and sciences and is essential to thinking, learning, education, psychology, cognitive science, creativity, and interdisciplinarity. Cognitive scientists and philosophers have proposed several concept theories, each with their advantages and disadvantages. This paper proposes an alternative view of concepts as complex conceptual systems governed by a simple set of rules that are formalized by the DSRP theory of concepts (an acronym of four simple rules: Distinctions, Systems, Relations, and Perspectives). Because DSRP is speculative, justification should be sought in: (1) future research, (2) correspondence with knowledge and experience, and (3) heuristic value in comparing and synthesizing existing theories. Individually, the components of DSRP have long been the subject of theoretical and empirical studies. However, it is the dynamic behavior and fractal self-similarity of these four rules acting together which provides a novel contribution to knowledge of concepts.


conceptual systems, systems thinking, cognition, education

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