If mind is investigated as the set of interactions that accomplish a cognitive task, that is, if mind is more than that which occurs inside the head, then how does the interplay of biological and environmental resources produce human cognition? Informed by active externalism, joint action, and distributed cognition, we review and classify a set of cognitive processes mediated by material representations. Specifically, we ask how—in a range of everyday cognitive and cultural practices—we employ objects (1) to scaffold memory, (2) to alter cognitive complexity, (3) to facilitate epistemic experimentation, (4) to enable the division of cognitive labor, (5) to promote confidence and trust, (6) to consolidate social structure, and (7) to support dialogical coupling. We conclude that through cultural practices the stable, “manipulable”, and public properties of objects have come to afford unprecedented modes of extended and distributed cognition.
Perspectives on Social Ontology and Social Cognition, 2014, p. 135-148
Social Ontology; Social Cognition; Distributed Cognition; Extended Mind; Active Externalism