Three of the very best reads in this area are:
Kees van Deemter, Not exactly, in praise of Vagueness, Oxford University Press, 2010, ISBN 978-0-19-954590-2. Vagueness is exactly what this very interesting book is about. Why is vagueness important? Because we are not computers running programs written in formal logic. In other words, computer systems must deal better with vagueness - what is a "warm day", for example?It is a theoretical book spanning philosophy, mathematical logic, linguistics and artificial intelligence (his home turf). If you, like me, like to wonder about the road ahead of us, this if for you.
Stanislas Dehaene, Reading in the Brian, Viking Penguin, 2009, ISBN 978-0-670-02110-9. It is about reading (and a little bit about writing) and he identifies (among a lot of other things) a list of cultural invariant modules / concepts within natural sciences, mathematics, arts and religion. He is a mathematician and a psychologist and is using neuroscience.
Derek Bickerton, Adam's Tongue, Hill & Wang, 2009, ISBN 978-0-8090-1647-1. He writes about the evolution of language in the light of the evolution of humans. Exploiting the theory of niche construction, he arrives at many very interesting conclusions. Be aware for instance, that there are a number of differences between categories (which are perceptual) and concepts (which are symbolic). He is a computational linguist emeritus.

Cognitive Science


Cognitive Science is today used to designate interdisciplinary work spanning:
  • Computer Science / Artificiel Intelligence
  • (Evolutionary) Psychology (“The Science of Psychology”)
  • (Evolutionary) Anthropology
  • (Evolutionary) Linguistics
  • Neuroscience (yes, the FMRi scanners and all that)
  • and more
Very, very exciting indeed. It seems almost certain that cognition is driven not by ingenious algorithms (like elaborate neural networks with hidden layers and all of that) - but on fuzzy kinds of approaches based on brute computational force by way of representing everything known (by the individual) in precomputed combinations in the neurons of the brain. I am working on a few pages about this - stay tuned.
For more information you may start here:
The diagram is provided by Miller, George A (2003). "The cognitive revolution: a historical perspective". TRENDS in Cognitive Sciences 7.

Here is a list of some of the books, I find relevant in relation to the understanding and representation of meaning:


Metaphors we live by
George Lakoff and Mark Johnson
ISBN 978-0-226-46801-3
University of Chicago Press 1980

A cognitive theory of magic
(Chapter 3)
Jesper Sørensen
ISBN 978-0-7591-1040-3
Altamira Press 2007

Conceptual Spaces
The geometry of thought
Peter Gärdenfors
ISBN 978-0-262-57219-4
MIT Press 2004

Toward a cognitive semantics (Vol I and II)
Leonard Talmy
ISBN 978-0-262-70098-0
MIT Press 2003

Spatial Schemas and Abstract Thought
ed. Merideth Gattis
ISBN 978-0-262-57169-2
MIT Press 2001

From neurons to notions
Brains, Mind and Meaning
Chris Nunn
ISBN 978-0086315-617-5
Floris books 2007

How the mind works
Steven Pinker
ISBN 978-0-140-24491-3
Penguin books 1999

The Stuff of Thought
Steven Pinker
ISBN 978-0-713-99741-5
Penguin books 2007

Language, Feeling and the Brain
The Evocative Vector
Dan Shanahan
ISBN 978-0-7658-0354-2
Transaction publishers 2007

Language, Consciousness, Culture
Ray Jackendoff
ISBN 978-0-262-10119-6
MIT Press 2007

Toward an evolutionary biology of language
Philip Lieberman
ISBN 978-0-674-02184-3
Harvard University Press 2006

The Meaning of the Body
Mark Johnson
ISBN 978-0-226-40192-8
University of Chicago Press 2007

Descartes' Error
Antonio Damasio
ISBN 978-0-099-50164-0
Vintage Books 2006

The Political Mind
George Lakoff
ISBN 978-0-670-01927-4
Viking Penguin 2008

Not Exactly - In Praise of Vagueness
Kees van Deemter
ISBN 978-0-19-954590-2
Oxford University Press 2010

I Am A Strange Loop
Douglas Hofstadter
ISBN 978-0-465-03079-8
Basic Books 2008

The Making of Human Concepts
Ed. Denis Mareshcal, Paul C. Quinn, Stephen E. G. Lea
ISBN 978-0-19-954922-1
Oxford University Press 2010

Conceptual Structures in Practice
Ed. Pascal Hitzler, Henrik Schärfe
ISBN 978-1-4200-6062-1
Taylor & Francis Group 2009