How Things Shape the Mind : A Theory of Material Engagement
An increasingly influential school of thought in cognitive science views the mind as embodied, extended, and distributed rather than brain-bound or "all in the head." This shift in perspective raises important questions about the relationship between cognition and material culture, posing major challenges for philosophy, cognitive science, archaeology, and anthropology. In How Things Shape the Mind, Lambros Malafouris proposes a cross-disciplinary analytical framework for investigating the ways in which things have become cognitive extensions of the human body. Using a variety of examples and case studies, he considers how those ways might have changed from earliest prehistory to the present. Malafouris's Material Engagement Theory definitively adds materiality -- the world of things, artifacts, and material signs -- into the cognitive equation. His account not only questions conventional intuitions about the boundaries and location of the human mind but also suggests that we rethink classical archaeological assumptions about human cognitive evolution.
- Hardback | 320 pages
- 152.4 x 228.6 x 20.32mm | 544.31g
- 09 Aug 2013
- MIT Press Ltd
- MIT Press
- Cambridge, Mass., United States
- 31 figures
Is the mind imprisoned in the brain? In this mix of neuroscience and philosophy, Lambros Malafouris suggests that mind and materiality are allied in ways that defy reductive world views. Engrossing. Nature How Things Shape the Mind: A Theory of Material Engagement is a lucid and well presented account of the state-of-the-art in connecting an archaeology of mind with the study of material culture to develop a deeper understanding of relational ontology and the importance of mediation for human thinking and cognition more generally...a compelling ally to further challenge the orthodox models of representation as already developed in the philosophies of among other Bergson or Whitehead and further on by Deleuze and Guattari... -- Martha Blassnigg Leonardo Reviews This is a noble, if possibly premature, attempt to apply the theoretical underpinnings of philosophical and cognitive science to the gut understanding of craftsmen that their craft involves an active interrelationship between their brains, their bodies, and their materials...this book is strongly recommended to cognitive scientists, philosophers, and cognitive anthropologists/archaeologists. Choice How Things Shape the Mind is an important book. Not since Human Evolution, Language, and Mind: A Psychological and Archaeological Inquiry (Noble and Davidson 1996) has an authored book taken a significant critical view of the epistemology grounding cognitive archaeology. Its challenge will not be easy to meet -- our Cartesian view of mind is just so very comfortable -- but it may well provide a means for making true progress in the archaeology of mind. -- Thomas Wynn Current Anthropology This book has a coherent structure, a lucid narrative and an interesting though risky theoretical argument. These elements serve to captivate the reader with provocative questions and suggestive answers. Minds and Machines This is an informed and readable treatise detailing how material culture engages with humanity in a unique way, especially because of its physicality. Part psychology, part philosophy, and a good, heavy dose of archaeology, this is a challenging book, and Malafouris clearly intends it to be so... For those wishing to ponder this considerable challenge, Malafouris's book will be a great place to start. -- Stephen J. Lycett American Antiquity As Malafouris has so wonderfully explicated throughout his book, 'The mind is more than a brain,' (p. 227), and I am now forever transfixed upon the much grander meaning of kites and the people who fly them. -- Frederick L. Coolidge Brain How Things Shape the Mind is a rich, thought-provoking and ambitious book... [T]hat this book is a main contribution to cognitive archaeology and to the wider debate on how material culture and technology, on the one hand, and human thought, on the other, are causally intertwined. Anyone who is seriously interested in either or both of these fields should read this fascinating book. Ethos
About Lambros Malafouris
Lambros Malafouris is Creativity Research Fellow and Research Fellow and Tutor in Archaeology, Anthropology, and Human Evolution at Keble College, University of Oxford.