Anderson M (2020) Distributed Cognition in the Early Modern Era. In: Jalobeanu D & Wolfe CT (eds.) Encyclopedia of Early Modern Philosophy and the Sciences. Cham, Switzerland: Springer.
Distributed cognition serves as an umbrella term for the various overlapping, competing and sometimes conflicting theories in current philosophy and cognitive science which claim that cognition is distributed across brain, body and world. 4E cognition is another name used for this framework, with the 4Es representing embodied, enactive, embedded and extended cognition. This framework can also help bring to the fore neglected ideas of the mind and the cognitive roles of resources, methods, practices and institutions in other historical periods. The early modern period inherited and developed concepts of the mind from classical antiquity and medieval traditions that accorded a cognitive role to the body and world, and itself underwent transformative sociocultural, scientific and technological shifts, which led to a heightened awareness of, and at times anxiety about, the distributed nature of the mind. This entry focuses on early modern notions and practices of distributed cognition in the sixteenth and early seventeenth century, alongside an exploration of the nature and origins of Cartesian substance dualism.
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