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Let say a child is shown an object and is told that this object is a microscope. He is then shown how to use it. Does he need to see a second microscope in order to form the concept microscope?

asked Jul 18 '14 at 12:17

Humbug's gravatar image


At minimum, what the child has may be akin to a proper name, like "The Microscope" or perhaps "Daddy's Microscope." If the child understands that there can be more of them, such as in different colors or sizes or magnification limits (maybe some with built-in lamps), then the child could very well have a true concept -- one learned largely from others -- but nevertheless denoting and subsuming far more than a single instance.

Furthermore, the very first person who ever invented a microscope may well have known of only his own single instance, which he may have identified initially by a descriptive phrase, such as "inverse close-up magnification instrument," or perhaps "close-up tele-viewer" or "close-up telescope" (just as the expression, "horseless carriage," preceded the terms "automobile" and "car," denoting a "motor car"). He probably would already have known about the single-lens magnifying glass and would have seen great similarity between it and what later came to be known as a microscope. According to Wikipedia, Galileo originally called his compound microscope the "little eye" until Giovanni Faber coined the term "microscope" for it in 1625.

Note, also, that it is possible at an advanced stage of knowledge to learn new concepts from others or from books, often without personally witnessing even one instance. Nowadays one can also go "on-line" and see countless pictures of different microscopes or just about anything else.

Still, a child learning about a microscope in the manner described in the question probably would tend to think of it as "that object that so and so told me about, for looking at things up close," until he acquires more knowledge of various different microscopes and what they can do. And it wouldn't be difficult at all for a child to imagine more microscopes in varying sizes, colors, magnification limits, etc., without ever actually seeing and touching them himself.

answered Jul 18 '14 at 21:43

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

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Asked: Jul 18 '14 at 12:17

Seen: 3,494 times

Last updated: Jul 18 '14 at 21:43