Distributed cognition covers a wide range of different approaches to the mind. It is a rapidly developing theoretical framework that currently encompasses a number of conflicting views. Finding a way to approach this framework may initially seem daunting. Accordingly, these seminars are intended to provide a helpful way in. Each seminar introduces current research on a major aspect of the distributed cognition framework. The merits of various approaches within the framework are discussed, as are outstanding challenges. We hope these seminars will be useful for researchers in thinking about how approaches to distributed cognition in philosophy and cognitive science could inform, and be informed by, historical and literary questions.

Each seminar includes a discussion thread. Please post questions, thoughts, concerns, and sketches of potential avenues of research. We encourage researchers to look at the ideas presented with a critical eye. We hope that the project will thus achieve its aim of being interdisciplinary in the best sense, with intellectual exchange in all directions.

Group Minds

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Deborah Tollefsen (University of Memphis)

This talk discusses some of the historical developments of the idea of group minds and the resurrection of the idea in contemporary philosophy of mind and cognitive science.  

Emotions in the Body and World

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Giovanna Colombetti (University of Exeter)

In recent years the affective sciences, including the psychology and philosophy of emotion, have re-evaluated the role of the body in emotion; accordingly, I think it is fair to say that today it is uncontroversial for affective scientists to view emotions as centrally involving a variety of bodily changes.

Memory as a Test Case for Distributed Cognition

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John Sutton (Macquarie University)

This online lecture has two aims. First, I explain the link between theories of distributed cognition, on the one hand, and contemporary currents in the sciences of memory, on the other. The resulting framework for studying distributed ecologies of remembering is, I suggest, a promising basis for interdisciplinary research. Secondly, I show specifically what this framework offers for research in history and the humanities.

The Phenomenological We

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Dan Zahavi (University of Copenhagen)

The lecture The Phenomenological We explores different phenomenological ideas about the nature of the we. One central question concerns whether we-consciousness presupposes and involves self-consciousness and other-consciousness or whether it rather abolishes the difference between self and other. Another central question concerns the relation between the second-person singular and the first-person plural.


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Dave Ward (University of Edinburgh)

I outline two different, but related, approaches to studying mind and cognition that have been termed 'enactive'. I then consider the extent to which both of these are committed to an anti-representationalist understanding of cognition and examine the relationship between enactivism and extended cognition.

The Extended Mind

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Andy Clark (University of Edinburgh)

The extended mind hypothesis claims that the effective circuits of human thought and reason are not entirely ‘in the head’, and invites us to consider technologies, social networks, and institutional structures as proper parts of distributed organs for thought.

Embodied Cognition

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Shaun Gallagher (University of Memphis)

I outline 5 different approaches to embodied cognition:  (1) A weak or minimal form of embodiment; (2) Biological embodiment;  (3) Semantic embodiment;  (4) Functionalist embodiment; (5) Enactive embodiment.

Distributed Cognition in the Analytic and Continental Traditions

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Mike Wheeler (University of Stirling)

Cognition (or mind, or thought, or intelligence…) may be said to be distributed when it is, in some way, spread out over the brain, the non-neural body and (in many paradigm cases) an environment consisting of objects, tools, other artefacts, texts, individuals, and/or social/institutional structures.