It is an summary category that your brain creates, based mostly on context. The esteemed neuroscientist Gerald Edelman described day by day experience as “the remembered current”. Your mind’s greatest guess – proper or wrong – manifests itself as your action and every little thing you see, hear, smell, taste and really feel in that moment.
But if I ask you to imagine a fish in a restaurant, your brain would more probably build a category from cod, haddock and salmon. So a category like ‘fish’ just isn’t one thing static in your brain.
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Purely abstract categories, in fact, drive many of your actions and experiences. When your mind makes guesses about the sense data around and within you, those guesses often form an summary category based on function. You might assume that classes exist within the outside world, however in reality, your brain makes them. If I ask you to think about a fish as a pet, your mind creates a category that might include bettas, goldfish and guppies.
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And this whirlwind of psychological construction all occurs in the blink of an eye, fully exterior of your awareness. So, your mind has an issue to solve, which philosophers name a ‘reverse inference problem’.