Kemmerer (2016) argues that researchers have the mistaken assumption that the conceptual system has the same organisational structure for every individual. He does not question whether the neural structures that are used for concepts are universal, rather he questions whether within those structures concepts are represented in the same way for everyone. That is, are the way in which an office clerk in Rotterdam represents animals or tools the same as the way in which an aboriginal hunter in Australia represents them? The only realistic answer to this question is “no”. Obviously, there have to be differences, because these people inhabit different worlds and live completely different lives. Even if they spoke the same language, their conceptual systems must differ, because if they were made to swap places, they would be lost. Thus, their conceptual systems must be adapted to their own environment, and not just because of differences in their grammars. In fact, because concepts are learned any difference in the learning environment will be reflected in conceptual structure. Thus, at least in cognitive psychology, the consensus is that people’s conceptual structures vary between individuals. [...]

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Journal Language, Cognition and Neuroscience
Pecher, D, & Zwaan, R.A. (2017). Flexible concepts: a commentary on Kemmerer (2016). Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 1–3. doi:10.1080/23273798.2016.1274413