Philosophy and Technology 32 (2):215-242 (2019)

In the domain of evolutionary cognitive archaeology, the early body ornaments from the Middle Stone Age/Palaeolithic are generally treated as mere by-products of an evolved brain-bound cognitive architecture selected to cope with looming social problems. Such adaptive artefacts are therefore taken to have been but passive means of broadcasting a priori envisaged meanings, essentially playing a neutral role for the human mind. In contrast to this epiphenomenalist view of material culture, postphenomenology and the Material Engagement Theory have been making a case for the active role of artefacts on the count that they can actually shape and restructure the human mind. By bringing these dissenting voices together, the paper at hand employs an enactive way of thinking in order to challenge the epiphenomenalist take on early body ornaments. In fact, two variants of enactivism are presented, each advancing a unique explanation of how the engagement of early humans with body ornaments transformed their minds along the two postphenomenological categories of embodied and hermeneutic cognition. Our theoretical frameworks specifically seek to explore how early beadworks could have scaffolded the creation of semiotic categories and the development of cognitive processes. Despite relying on inherently different premises, both theories suggest that beads fostered the emergence of an epistemic apparatus which thoroughly transformed the way humans engaged with the world. Having concurred on the ornaments’ transformative effects, we ultimately conclude that the epiphenomenalist paradigm best be replaced with an enactive approach grounded on the dictates of postphenomenology and the MET.
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DOI 10.1007/s13347-017-0296-9
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Mind and Material Engagement.Lambros Malafouris - 2019 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 18 (1):1-17.
Material Engagement Theory and its Philosophical Ties to Pragmatism.Antonis Iliopoulos - 2019 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 18 (1):39-63.

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