It is common to distinguish ‘abstract’ concepts like BEAUTY and ELECTRON from more concrete concepts like RED and CAT. A concrete concept like CAT might be grounded, in some sense, in the sight, sound and feel of cats; perhaps also in what you feel like doing when you see one (for some: stroking it, for others: sneezing). Abstract concepts aren’t grounded in this way. How, then, are they grounded?
A new theme issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B tackles that question. I contribute a metacognitive perspective. The way thinkers treat abstract concepts metacognitively – for example their implicit dispositions to defer to experts or their wider community – will allow many abstract concepts to be grounded in resources beyond those housed in the minds of the individual thinker. Thinking about abstract concepts, then, highlights the potential importance of concept-metacognition.