Thinking Materially: Cognition as Extended and Enacted

in Journal of Cognition and Culture
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Human cognition is extended and enacted. Drawing the boundaries of cognition to include the resources and attributes of the body and materiality allows an examination of how these components interact with the brain as a system, especially over cultural and evolutionary spans of time. Literacy and numeracy provide examples of multigenerational, incremental change in both psychological functioning and material forms. Though we think materiality, its central role in human cognition is often unappreciated, for reasons that include conceptual distribution over multiple material forms, the unconscious transparency of cognitive activity in general, and the different temporalities of metaplastic change in neurons and cultural forms.

Thinking Materially: Cognition as Extended and Enacted

in Journal of Cognition and Culture



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  • View in gallery
    (Left) Quartered disk used to signify “ungulate” (e.g., sheep, cattle) in protocuneiform. (Right) The word “ungulate” in alphabetic script. Understanding either involves reading, but the literacy involved in reading the word at right differs from the “this-means-that” association involved in understanding the sign at left. Sign adapted from the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative.


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