Language is an important aspect of human cognition. We could even say that human cognition is defined by language. But what makes language such an effective cognitive utility? The answer could be words and the multipurpose ways in which we use them. As the foundation of language, words are also foundational elements of cognition. The cognitive systems that enable us to understand words as shapes, signals, symbols and stories are instrumental to our capacity for increasingly complex levels of cognition.
Words as Perception: Shapes
Perception is the ability to map the world in our minds through the cognitive representation of sensations.
The perception of a word involves the sensory form (shape) of a sound, image, or movement.
*At this level, words are just sensations without abstract meaning.
Words as Associations: Signals
Association is the ability to map relationships in the world through the cognitive representation of connections among sensations.
The association of a word acts as a trigger (signal) for the memory of other perceptions.
*At this level, words are still simply sensory forms associated with other sensations.
Words as Conceptions: Symbols
Conception is the ability to integrate mappings in our mind through the cognitive representation of networks of connections.
The conception of a word embodies the integration (symbol) of a pattern among perceptions and associations.
*At this level, words are also symbolic forms with definitions.
Words as Interpretations: Stories
Interpretation is the ability to coordinate integrated mappings in our minds through the cognitive representation of organization among networks.
The interpretation of words conveys meaning through the synthesis (story) of perceptions, associations, and conceptions.
*At this level, words interact to express abstract meaning.