Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 837–862 | Cite as

What’s the Matter with cognition? A ‘Vygotskian’ perspective on material engagement theory

Article

Abstract

The cross-disciplinary framework of Material Engagement Theory (MET) has emerged as a novel research program that flexibly spans archeology, anthropology, philosophy, and cognitive science. True to its slogan to ‘take material culture seriously’, “MET wants to change our understanding of what minds are and what they are made of by changing what we know about what things are and what they do for the mind” (Malafouris 2013, 141). By tracing out more clearly the conceptual contours of ‘material engagement,’ and firming up its ontological commitments, the main goal of this article is to help refine Malafouris’ fertile approach. In particular, we argue for a rapprochement between MET and the tradition of Cultural-Historical Activity Theory, based on the ‘Vygotskian’ hypothesis of scaffolded and/or distributed cognition.

Keywords

Material agency Extended mind Distributed cognition Vygotsky Cultural-historical activity theory Cognitive archeology 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank Julian Kiverstein for his insightful comments on an earlier version of this paper.

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, St. Augustine Center of the Liberal Arts 172Villanova UniversityVillanovaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Philosophy, St. Augustine Center of the Liberal Arts 108Villanova UniversityVillanovaUSA

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