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A concept is an organising idea which serves to pick out certain features in an object of thought and distinguishes it from other objects. To conceptualise is therefore fundamental to thinking at all, and we all begin its operation in early infancy. Kant famously wrote ‘no percepts without concepts’ by which he meant quite literally that we cannot see things without an organising idea to tell us what to see. It is said that the first thing a baby learns to see is a face (which, it is added, may be why we can see faces anywhere – in the folds of a curtain or the head of a flower), and smiles in recognition of the fact that it knows what it sees.

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