I already wrote about this in “Introduction to Hebbian Natural Abstractions”:
- Let’s consider the thought process of the divine mind³ when creating trees. Trees come in very different shapes or differing branching patterns. Now, who imposed on them that they are ‘trees’? Did the divine mind already have a category in mind and created trees from an existing idea of trees, universalia ante rem (‘universals before the thing’)? Is the idea of a tree realized in trees, universalia in re (’universals in the thing’)? Or did we create the idea of a tree by examining trees and throwing away unnecessary properties? This would mean that we formed something like an abstraction, universalia post rem (’universals after the thing’).
Especially reading Why should we expect abstractions to be natural?, Most cognitive systems learn subsets of the same abstractions, Natural abstractions don’t overlap and Most general cognitive systems can learn the same abstractions, I thought that they all point at the same thing: natural abstractions are realized in the things. In other words, the reason why we should expect a wide range of cognitive agents to form natural abstractions is because universals are realized in an object, and there is a certain category of object that is to be called tree.