In Lawrence Shapiro (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Embodied Cognition. Routledge. pp. 347-357 (2014)

Georg Theiner
Villanova University
Benjamin Franklin famously wrote that “the good [that] men do separately is small compared with what they may do collectively” (Isaacson 2004). The ability to join with others in groups to accomplish goals collectively that would hopelessly overwhelm the time, energy, and resources of individuals is indeed one of the greatest assets of our species. In the history of humankind, groups have been among the greatest workers, builders, producers, protectors, entertainers, explorers, discoverers, planners, problem-solvers, and decision-makers. During the late 19th and early 20th century, many social scientists employed the notorious “group mind” idiom to express the sensible idea that groups can function as the seats of cognition, intelligence, and agency in their own right (Allport 1968; Wilson 2004). In their quest to stress (rightly) that group phenomena are something “over and above” the sum of individual contributions, a fondness for vitalist metaphors led them to believe (wrongly) that genuine group cognition must be the result of tapping into individualistically inaccessible, “holistic” forces. Today, inspired in part by historically unparalleled forms of mass collaboration enabled by the internet, it has once again become popular to speak of collective intelligence, group agency, or even the emergence of a “global brain” (cf. the wiki-edited MIT Handbook of Collective Intelligence). In this chapter, I review some contemporary developments of the idea of group cognition, defined broadly as the collaborative performance of cognitive tasks such as remembering, problem-solving, decision-making, or verbal creativity for the purpose of producing a group-level outcome. My discussion serves a two-fold purpose. First, by discussing how the idea of group cognition can be operationalized, I seek to show that we can retain some central theoretical insights of the “group mind” thesis without succumbing to its eccentric metaphysical overtones. Second, by providing a useful array of generalizable taxonomic resources, I hope to foster greater degrees of mutual awareness among insufficiently integrated areas of research on group performance.
Keywords Group cognition  Collective intentionality  Group mind thesis  Collective information-processing  Distributed cognition
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The Cognitive Ecology of the Internet.Paul Smart, Richard Heersmink & Robert Clowes - 2017 - In Stephen Cowley & Frederic Vallée-Tourangeau (eds.), Cognition Beyond the Brain: Computation, Interactivity and Human Artifice (2nd ed.). Cham, Switzerland: Springer. pp. 251-282.
Mandevillian Intelligence.Paul Smart - 2018 - Synthese 195 (9):4169-4200.
Where the Smart Things Are: Social Machines and the Internet of Things.Paul Smart, Aastha Madaan & Wendy Hall - 2019 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 18 (3):551-575.

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