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Material Agency, Skills and History: Distributed Cognition and the Archaeology of Memory

  • John Sutton

Introduction

If cognition is distributed as well as embodied, then explanation in cognitive science must often highlight more or less transient extended systems spanning embodied brains, social networks or resources and key parts of the natural and the cultural world. These key parts of material culture are not simply cues which trigger the truly cognitive apparatus inside the head but instead form “a continuous part of the machinery itself ”, as “systemic components the interaction of which brings forth the cognitive process in question” (Malafouris, 2004:58). On this view, cognitive science is thus not just the study of the brain: indeed, even neuroscience cannot be the study of the brain alone, for brains coupled with external resources may have unique functional and dynamical characteristics apparent only when we also attend to the nature of those resources and the peculiarities of the interaction. This chapter argues that if cognition is indeed thus distributed, then cognition is...

Keywords

Cognitive Science Cognitive System Material Agency Extended Mind Skill Memory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

I am particularly grateful to the editors. Some of these ideas were first presented at the workshop ‘Extended Mind 2: just when you thought it was safe to go back in the head’ at the University of Hertfordshire in July 2006: my thanks to Richard Menary and all those who made comments and suggestions then. I also warmly acknowledge the contributions of Amanda Barnier, Ed Cooke, Doris McIlwain and Lyn Tribble, my collaborators on various parts of the developing framework outlined in this chapter.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Macquarie Centre for Cognitive ScienceMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

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