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Georg Theiner
Villanova University
  1. Res Cogitans Extensa: A Philosophical Defense of the Extended Mind Thesis.Georg Theiner - 2011 - Peter Lang.
    For Descartes, minds were essentially non-extended things. Contemporary cognitive science prides itself on having exorcised the Cartesian ghost from the biological machine. However, it remains committed to the Cartesian vision of the mental as something purely inner. Against the idea that the mind resides solely in the brain, advocates of the situated and embodied nature of cognition have long stressed the importance of dynamic brain-body-environment couplings, the opportunistic exploitation of bodily morphology, the strategic performance of epistemically potent actions, the generation (...)
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  2.  55
    Recognizing Group Cognition.Georg Theiner, Colin Allen & Robert L. Goldstone - 2010 - Cognitive Systems Research 11 (4):378-395.
    In this paper, we approach the idea of group cognition from the perspective of the “extended mind” thesis, as a special case of the more general claim that systems larger than the individual human, but containing that human, are capable of cognition (Clark, 2008; Clark & Chalmers, 1998). Instead of deliberating about “the mark of the cognitive” (Adams & Aizawa, 2008), our discussion of group cognition is tied to particular cognitive capacities. We review recent studies of group problem-solving and group (...)
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  3.  54
    Transactive Memory Systems: A Mechanistic Analysis of Emergent Group Memory.Georg Theiner - 2013 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 4 (1):65-89.
    Wegner, Giuliano, and Hertel (1985) defined the notion of a transactive memory system (TMS) as a group level memory system that “involves the operation of the memory systems of the individuals and the processes of communication that occur within the group (p. 191). Those processes are the collaborative procedures (“transactions”) by which groups encode, store, and retrieve information that is distributed among their members. Over the past 25+ years, the conception of a TMS has progressively garnered an increased interest among (...)
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  4.  24
    A Beginner’s Guide to Group Minds.Georg Theiner - 2014 - In Kallestrup Jesper & Sprevak Mark (eds.), New Waves in Philosophy of Mind. Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 301-22.
    Conventional wisdom in the philosophy of mind holds that (1) minds are exclusively possessed by individuals, and that (2) no constitutive part of a mind can have a mind of its own. For example, the paradigmatic minds of human beings are in the purview of individual organisms, associated closely with their brains, and no parts of the brain that are constitutive of a human mind are considered as capable of having a mind. Let us refer to the conjunction of (1) (...)
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  5.  74
    The Emergence of Group Cognition.Georg Theiner & Tim O'Connor - 2010 - In A. Corradini & T. O'Connor (eds.), Emergence in Science and Philosophy. Routledge. pp. 6--78.
    What drives much of the current philosophical interest in the idea of group cognition is its appeal to the manifestation of psychological properties—understood broadly to include states, processes, and dispositions—that are in some important yet elusive sense emergent with respect to the minds of individual group members. Our goal in this paper is to address a set of related, conditional questions: If human mentality is real yet emergent in a modest metaphysical sense only, then: (i) What would it mean for (...)
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  6.  27
    Making Sense of Group Cognition: The Curious Case of Transactive Memory Systems.Georg Theiner - 2009 - In W. Christensen, E. Schier & J. Sutton (eds.), ASCS09: Proceedings of the 9th Conference of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science. Macquarie Center for Cognitive Science. pp. 334-42.
    The “extended mind” thesis (Clark, 2008) has focused primarily on the interactions between single individuals and cognitive artifacts, resulting in a relative neglect of interactions between people. At the same time, the idea that groups can have cognitive properties of their own has gained new ascendancy in various fields concerned with collective behavior. My main goal in this paper is to propose an understanding of group cognition as an emergent form of socially distributed cognition. To that end, I first clarify (...)
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  7.  89
    Group Mind.Georg Theiner & Wilson Robert - 2013 - In Byron Kaldis (ed.), Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Social Sciences. Sage Publications. pp. 401-04.
    Talk of group minds has arisen in a number of distinct traditions, such as in sociological thinking about the “madness of crowds” in the 19th-century, and more recently in making sense of the collective intelligence of social insects, such as bees and ants. Here we provide an analytic framework for understanding a range of contemporary appeals to group minds and cognate notions, such as collective agency, shared intentionality, socially distributed cognition, transactive memory systems, and group-level cognitive adaptations.
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  8.  21
    The Multiple, Interacting Levels of Cognitive Systems Perspective on Group Cognition.Rob Goldstone & Georg Theiner - 2017 - Philosophical Psychology 30 (3):334-368.
    In approaching the question of whether groups of people can have cognitive capacities that are fundamentally different than the cognitive capacities of the individuals within the group, we lay out a Multiple, Interactive Levels of Cognitive Systems (MILCS) framework. The goal of MILCS is to explain the kinds of cognitive processes typically studied by cognitive scientists, such as perception, attention, memory, categorization, decision making, problem solving, and judgment. Rather than focusing on high-level constructs such as modules in an information processing (...)
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  9.  17
    What’s the Matter with Cognition? A ‘Vygotskian’ Perspective on Material Engagement Theory.Georg Theiner & Chris Drain - 2017 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 16 (5):837-862.
    The cross-disciplinary framework of Material Engagement Theory (MET) has emerged as a novel research program that flexibly spans archeology, anthropology, philosophy, and cognitive science. True to its slogan to ‘take material culture seriously’, “MET wants to change our understanding of what minds are and what they are made of by changing what we know about what things are and what they do for the mind” (Malafouris 2013, 141). By tracing out more clearly the conceptual contours of ‘material engagement,’ and firming (...)
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  10.  41
    Where Syllogistic Reasoning Happens: An Argument for the Extended Mind Hypothesis.Georg Theiner - 2007 - In McNamara D. S. & Trafton J. G. (eds.), Proceedings of the 29th Annual Cognitive Science Society. Cognitive Science Society.
    Does cognition sometimes literally extend into the extra-organismic environment (Clark, 2003), or is it always “merely” environmentally embedded (Rupert, 2004)? Underlying this current border dispute is the question about how to individuate cognitive processes on principled grounds. Based on recent evidence about the active role of representation selection and construction in learning how to reason (Stenning, 2002), I raise the question: what makes two distinct, modality-specific pen-and-paper manipulations of external representations – diagrams versus sentences – cognitive processes of the same (...)
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  11.  50
    From Extended Minds to Group Minds: Rethinking the Boundaries of the Mental.Georg Theiner - 2008 - Dissertation, Indiana University
    In my dissertation, I explore the remarkable talent of human beings to modify and co-opt resources of their material and socio-cultural environment, and integrate them with their biological capacities in order to enhance their cognitive prowess. In the first part, I clarify and defend the claim – known as the extended mind thesis – that a significant portion of human cognition literally extends beyond the head into the world, actively incorporating our bodies and an intricate web of material resources (Clark, (...)
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  12.  24
    Scaffolded Joint Action as a Micro–Foundation of Organizational Learning.Brian Gordon & Georg Theiner - 2015 - In Charles B. Stone & Lucas Bietti (eds.), Contextualizing Human Memory: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Understanding How Individuals and Groups Remember the Past. Psychology Press. pp. 154-186.
    Organizational learning, at the broadest levels, as it has come to be understood within the organization theory and management literatures, concerns the experientially driven changes in knowledge processes, structures, and resources that enable organizations to perform skillfully in their task environments (Argote and Miron–Spektor, 2011). In this chapter, we examine routines and capabilities as an important micro–foundation for organizational learning. Adopting a micro–foundational approach in line with Barney and Felin (2013), we propose a new model for explaining how routines and (...)
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  13.  36
    Varieties of Group Cognition.Georg Theiner - 2014 - In Lawrence Shapiro (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Embodied Cognition. Routledge. pp. 347-357.
    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 (...)
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  14.  66
    Onwards and Upwards with the Extended Mind: From Individual to Collective Epistemic Action.Georg Theiner - 2013 - In Linnda Caporael, James Griesemer & William Wimsatt (eds.), Developing Scaffolds. MIT Press. pp. 191-208.
    In recent years, philosophical developments of the notion of distributed and/or scaffolded cognition have given rise to the “extended mind” thesis. Against the popular belief that the mind resides solely in the brain, advocates of the extended mind thesis defend the claim that a significant portion of human cognition literally extends beyond the brain into the body and a heterogeneous array of physical props, tools, and cultural techniques that are reliably present in the environment in which people grow, think, and (...)
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  15.  17
    The ‘Ontological Complicity’ of Habitus and Field: Was Bourdieu an ‘Externalist’?Nikolaus Fogle & Georg Theiner - forthcoming - In Duncan Pritchard, Orestis Palermos & Adam Carter (eds.), Socially Extended Epistemology. Oxford University Press.
    Our aim in this chapter is to contribute to a greater appreciation of Bourdieu’s work within debates on embodied, extended and distributed cognition, grouped under the general heading of externalism (Rowlands 2003, Carter et al. 2014). We seek to draw out several pertinent elements of Bourdieu’s theory of social practice, and show how they variously resonate with, enrich, or problematize key externalist theses. We begin with an overview of the main elements of Bourdieu’s theoretical enterprise, in order to provide essential (...)
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  16.  37
    A Beginner’s Guide to Group Minds.Georg Theiner - forthcoming - In Jesper Kallestrup & Mark Sprevak (eds.), New Waves in Philosophy of Mind. Palgrave-Macmillan.
    Conventional wisdom in the philosophy of mind holds that (1) minds are exclusively possessed by individuals, and that (2) no constitutive part of a mind can have a mind of its own. For example, the paradigmatic minds of human beings are in the purview of individual organisms, associated closely with their brains, and no parts of the brain that are constitutive of a human mind are considered as capable of having a mind. Let us refer to the conjunction of (1) (...)
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  17.  22
    The Collaborative Emergence of Group Cognition.Georg Theiner & John Sutton - 2014 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 37 (3):277-278.
    We extend Smaldino's approach to collaboration and social organization in cultural evolution to include cognition. By showing how recent work on emergent group-level cognition can be incorporated within Smaldino's framework, we extend that framework's scope to encompass collaborative memory, decision making, and intelligent action. We argue that beneficial effects arise only in certain forms of cognitive interdependence, in surprisingly fragile conditions.
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  18.  13
    The Extended Mind.Georg Theiner - forthcoming - In Turner Brian (ed.), The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Social Theory. Wiley.
    The ‘extended mind’ thesis asserts that cognitive processes are not bound by the skull or even skin of biological individuals, but actively incorporate environmental structures such as symbols, tools, artifacts, media, cultural practices, norms, groups, or institutions. By distributing cognition across space, time, and people in canny ways, we circumvent or overcome the biological limitations of our brains. Human beings are creative, albeit opportunistic experts in cognitive ‘self-transcendence.’ This entry surveys discussions of EM in philosophy of mind and cognitive science (...)
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  19.  15
    Realism 'Naturalized'? [REVIEW]Georg Theiner - 2016 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 47 (1):247-255.
    The notion of 'natural kinds' has been central to contemporary discussions of metaphysics and philosophy of science. In recent years, essentialism has been the dominant account of natural kinds among philosophers, but the essentialist view has encountered resistance. Informed by detailed examination of classification in the natural and social sciences, Prof. Muhammad Ali Khalidi argues against essentialism and for a naturalist account of natural kinds. By looking at case studies drawn from diverse scientific disciplines, from fluid mechanics to virology and (...)
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  20.  20
    Writing in Mind. Introduction to the Special Issue on “Language, Literacy, and Media Theory: Exploring the Cultural History of the Extended Mind”.Georg Theiner - 2013 - Avant: Trends in Interdisciplinary Studies 4 (2):15-29.
    Proponents of the “literacy” thesis share with proponents of the “extended mind” thesis the viewpoint that communication systems such as language or writing have cognitive implications that go beyond their purely social and communicative purposes. Conceiving of media as extensions of the mind thus has the potential to bring together and cross-fertilize research programs that are currently placed in distant corners of the study of mind, language, and society. In this issue, we bring together authors with a diverse set of (...)
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  21.  10
    Review of John Bolender (2010). The Self-Organizing Social Mind. [REVIEW]Georg Theiner - 2011 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
  22.  3
    Collectivism and the Emergence of Linguistic Universals.Georg Theiner - 2006 - In Rocha Luis Mateus, Yaeger Larry S., Bedau Mark A., Floreanu Dario, Goldstone Robert L. & Vespignani Alessandro (eds.), Artificial Life X. Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference on the Simulation and Synthesis of Living Systems. MIT Press.
    My goal in this paper is to defend the plausibility of a particular version of collectivism – understood as the evolutionary claim that individual-level cognition is systematically biased in favor of aggregate-level regularities – in the domain of language. Chomsky's (1986) methodological promotion of I-language (speaker-internal knowledge) and the corresponding demotion of E-language (aggregate output of a population of speakers) has led mainstream cognitive science to view language essentially as a property of individual minds/brains whose evolution is best explained as (...)
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  23.  2
    Review of Paul Pietroski, Causing Actions. [REVIEW]Timothy O'Connor & Georg Theiner - 2002 - Philosophical Review 111:291-294.
  24.  2
    Pisanie w umyśle.Georg Theiner - 2013 - Avant: Trends in Interdisciplinary Studies 4 (2):233-249.
    Proponents of the “literacy” thesis share with proponents of the “extended mind” thesis the viewpoint that communication systems such as language or writing have cognitive implications that go beyond their purely social and communicative purposes. Conceiving of media as extensions of the mind thus has the potential to bring together and cross-fertilize research programs that are currently placed in distant corners of the study of mind, language, and society. In this issue, we bring together authors with a diverse set of (...)
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