What is it about?

Four perspectives on numerical origins are examined. The nativist model sees numbers as an aspect of numerosity, the biologically endowed ability to appreciate quantity that humans share with other species. The linguistic model sees numbers as a function of language. The embodied model sees numbers as conceptual metaphors informed by physical experience and expressed in language. Finally, the extended model sees numbers as conceptual outcomes of a cognitive system that includes material forms as constitutive components. If numerical origins are to be found, each perspective must address one or more critical questions that will require working across discipline boundaries.

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I am interested in how societies become numerate by using and recruiting material forms into the cognitive system for numbers over generations of collaborative effort. The manuovisually engaged domain of material forms is a primary mechanism for realizing and elaborating numerical concepts. I also look at the effect this elaborational mechanism has on conceptual content, and what this might augur about the future of human cognition.

Dr. Karenleigh A. Overmann
University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

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This page is a summary of: Numerical Origins: The Critical Questions, Journal of Cognition and Culture, December 2021, Brill,
DOI: 10.1163/15685373-12340121.
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