The cognitive life of things
In the following paper, Edwin Hutchins (proponent of the Distributed Cognition approach/framework) discuss what he calls "the cognitive life of things", attempting to place this in the context of rich multimodal interactions. Hutchins, E. (2006) Imagining the Cognitive Life of Things, presented at the symposium:"The Cognitive Life of Things: Recasting the boundaries of Mind" organized by Colin Renfrew and Lambros Malafouris at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Cambridge University, UK 7-9 April, 2006.
Hutchins's claim (which he developed in his book Cognition in the Wild) is that cognitive science was fundamentally flawed since its focus was to put cognitive properties inside the person and not in the social and material world. His book had been criticized about the very fact that he almost said nothing about the embodied practice of human in his examples (navigation). This paper tries to make distributed cognition less disembodied by showing how interaction are richly multimodal creating emergent cognitive effects. In this paper, the author also describes ths "cognitive ecology" concept:
By cognitive ecology I mean that all of the elements and relations potentially interact with one another and that each is part of the environment for all of the others (...) This rich cognitive ecology gives rise to some powerful cognitive processes. The embodied interaction with things creates mechanisms for reasoning, imagination, “Aha!” insight, and abstraction. Cultural things provide the mediational means to domesticate the embodied imagination.
Why do I blog this? this kind of argument is interesting to me especially when I think back about what I learn from my early cognitive psychology courses which were definitely disembodied (un-embodied at all I would say). I also like the development around the idea "Using the body to imagine the dynamics of things", this connects to the things I've read about the affordance of space in socio-sognition.