by Dr Paul Gosney and reviewed by Dr Sunil Kumar

Learning outcomes:

By the end of this module you should be able to:


  • describe the problems in establishing the relationship between thought and language


  • explain some of the research evidence used in the argument about whether thought influences language or vice versa 


  • describe a theory of the neurological basis of thought


  • describe concepts (both well- and ill-defined) and properties


  • explain the relevance of prototypes in learning new concepts


  • recognise two different forms of reasoning: inductive and deductive 


  • define some of the common errors that occur when deductive and inductive methods are used by humans


  • explain why we have problems in making rational decisions.


Module introduction

You probably feel reasonably confident that you know what the word 'thought' means, and that you can use it correctly. However on closer inspection it turns out to be a slippery concept which is difficult to pin down. We will consider different types of thought and a model of the neurological basis for thought processes.


The close relationship of thought to language will be discussed, particularly whether it is language that dominates thought or thought that dominates language.


We will then find out why we use concepts and see how they are related to properties. We will look at the difference between well-defined and poorly defined concepts.


Finally, we will consider reasoning. In the classical philosophical sense there are two broad forms of reasoning: deductive and inductive. We will look at both of these and evaluate their relation to how people actually think, before exploring some of the common human errors in reasoning.


Learning notes

We recommend that you make some notes as you work through this module.


The 'TrOn Notebook' facility can be accessed throughout the module (allowing you to make notes on each page), and these notes will be saved in your personal area 'My TrOn', for future reference. However, you will not be able to print these notes as one single document.


If you would prefer to make your notes in a separate document you may wish to download the 'learning notes' below. This downloadable Word document will allow you to keep a personalised record of your learning, which you can then save and/or print for future reference.


Download the learning notes document for this module


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