To regard cognition as culturally distributed is to follow Ed Hutchins
(1995) in emphasizing that human intelligence is a matter both of
what happens in the head and causal processes that draw on historically
rooted practices and artifacts. It is thus one of many current theories
that reject the internalism of classic cognitive science. While
differing from others in focusing on human practices, we concur
that cognitive processes are embodied, situated and –in humans–permeated
by the normative influences of culture.
There can be, we believe, no theory of distributed language. To
take this position is to view what lay people call ‘language’
as a heterogeneous bundle of distantly related events and processes.
Far from being reducible to on systematic knowledge, these couple
cultural and bio-behavioural patterns that are spread across space,
time and bodily modalities.
This differs from the post-Saussurian
linguistic tradition where language is seen as a code (or symbolic
system). It also contrasts with classic cognitive views in denying
that language is represented in a single mind/brain. From a distributed
perspective, language is grounded in how human customs link biomechanical
events with everyday practices. Both talk and written signs are
integral to dynamical events that exploit complex multi-scalar organization.
Language –and brains –are dialogical, implicated in
most human behaviour, (gossip, song, religious rituals, science,
using information technology etc.) and arise from the whole history
of human expression.
in and around distributed cognition
John Sutton puts distributed cognition under his links for dynamical
Here is Edwin
Hutchins’ home page
Most of Andy
Clark’s papers are here
Here is David
Regards consciousness, David
Chalmers is great (though lots of these people think it is ‘in
For interesting surprises, check out Timo
For a range of related sites, go
And for a more social approach, go to The
Gallagher focuses on the nature of self, others and what it
is to have
Here is a
more biological approach to linking outsides with insides.