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Talks highlight how we think

A series of University talks will explore how humans have long used tools to aid the thinking process.

The lectures, to be held at the National Museum of Scotland will look at the range of ways objects have assisted the cognitive process over thousands of years.

International guest speakers and University academics will look at everything from finger counting to calculators.

Thinking with Things takes place on Saturday, 8 October.

Mind-altering masks

Professor Peter Meineck, of New York University, will discuss the use of ancient Greek theatre masks as a means to change how their audience perceive a performance.

This will include live demonstrations of the masks by Dr Malcolm Knight of the Scottish Mask and Puppet Centre.

Professor Meineck is an expert in Classics in the Modern World and founder of the Aquila Theatre, an acclaimed American production company. 

Things we count on

Curator Dr Tacye Phillipson, of the National Museum of Scotland, will focus on calculators and counting devices.

During the talk, Dr Phillipson will discuss how such objects go from cutting-edge to obsolete.

Fellow curator Dr Klaus Stubermann will explain how those in his profession can breathe new life into a museum exhibit or artefact. He will also explore how that process can influence our current culture.

Intriguing artefacts

Professor Guillemette Bolens from the University of Geneva will use intriguing artefacts from the Museum’s collection. These include such a 14th Century helmet and a photograph of Victorian firefighters. She will discuss how these objects gain meaning through cultural and cognitive interpretation.

Cultural collaboration

The Thinking with Things event is organised by the University’s History of Distributed Cognition Project in collaboration with the National Museum of Scotland.

The History of Distributed Cognition Project is a collaborative group that seeks to explore historical expressions of new claims in cognitive science and philosophy that the mind is distributed across brain, body and world.  

The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Related Links

Thinking with Things event

The History of the Distributed Cognition Project

School of History, Classics and Architecture

National Museum of Scotland

Arts and Humanities Research Council