Francesco Gagliardi

The conceptualization of antimatter among cognitive permeability, embodiment and theory-based categorization

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Keywords: Cognitive Science of Science; History of Physics; Theory-Ladeness; Paul Dirac; Carl Anderson.

In this paper we analyze the development of the concept of antimatter in physics at the beginnings of '900, as a case study of categorization and conceptualization abilities of the human mind. Using a historical-cognitive point of view, we can show how it is necessary to use different theories of concepts to fully understand the cognitive dynamics that led to the conceptualization of antimatter and then to its final acceptance. The concept of antimatter was the result in part of an embodied categorization and in part of a theory-based one; moreover, the integration between the two was not straightforward at all, because involved cognitive permeability phenomena in observational phases and symbol-grounding problems in theoretical stages. The cognitive development of antimatter is an outcome of various cognitive faculties of the human mind which interact and sometimes interfere with each other.

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