How does Material Culture Extend the Mind?
Material Culture and the Brain
Humans rely extensively on material culture when they are thinking, including when they are involved in reasoning tasks that require creative solutions. Examples are measuring devices like compasses and barometers; external memory aids like calendars, books, and maps; calculating instruments like abaci and slide rules; and highly specialized tools like imaging software. Even a brief look around one’s desk suffices to indicate that humans are surrounded by artifacts that are specifically designed to perform a variety of cognitive tasks. Why do humans rely so extensively on external tools? What are the kinds of cognitive tasks that material culture helps them to accomplish? How are they instrumental in helping them complete such tasks? This entry of the extended cognition literature will look at these questions in more...