PPIG: Philosophy, Psychology, and Informatics Group

Speaker: Professor Mike Wheeler (University of Stirling)

Title: The Unusual Suspects: the Role of Literature, Art and History in Cognitive Theory

Abstract: When we study the interfaces between brain, body and culture from the perspective of 4E (embodied-embedded-extended-enactive) cognition, there is a demand that we explain thought, experience and behaviour as resulting from entangled systems of organic, technological and cultural elements in which the balance often shifts outwards and the contribution of the brain turns out to be rather different from how it is conceived in traditional cognitive theory. I'll illustrate this pattern of explanation with examples from creativity, one of the bastions of residual internalism. However, when we ask not about how such entangled systems explain psychological phenomena, but about how we should study such systems and their interfaces, we still tend to look immediately to science and its philosophical bedfellows. On this view, literature, art and history do ‘no more than’ generate data to be explained by our newly enlightened 4E cognitive science. But, as I shall argue, literature, art and history may make another, more fundamental, kind of contribution within the 4E project. I'll say what this means and describe examples that illustrate the kind of contribution I have in mind. Coming to a view about what's going on here will involve a discussion of how we use, or should use, terms such as 'explanation', 'insight' and 'understanding'.

Further information

We are a group of researchers from diverse backgrounds in the above-mentioned groups (and beyond) who aim to gain an interdisciplinary yet deep understanding of the threads that bind the human mind and the world. In particular, this seminar series focuses on the nature of cognition, metacognition and social cognition. We’ll be tackling questions such as, what does it mean to think? What does it mean to think about thinking? And, what does it mean to think about one’s own thinking versus thinking about the thinking of other people? Please come along!

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Contact details

Dr Alistair Isaac

Mar 20 2019 -

PPIG: Philosophy, Psychology, and Informatics Group

2019-03-20: The Unusual Suspects: the Role of Literature, Art and History in Cognitive Theory

Room 1.20, Dugald Stewart Building, 3 Charles Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9AD