Extension and Embodiment in Cultural Evolution

19 September 2013 - 20 September 2013

CRASSH, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DT - S1

This conference is now fully booked. Please email conferences@crassh.cam.ac.uk if you would like to be added to the waiting list.

Convenors

Beth Hannon (University of Cambridge)

Tim Lewens (University of Cambridge) 

Summary

The noted social anthropologist Clifford Geertz warned in 1973 that ‘the main source of theoretical muddlement in contemporary anthropology is a view which […] is right now very widely held—namely, that [...] “culture [is located] in the minds and hearts of men.” ’. The view that Geertz opposed is precisely the one upheld by many influential cultural evolutionists: as Richerson and Boyd put it in their (2005) manifesto for an evolutionary approach to culture, ‘culture is (mostly) information stored in human brains’. This standoff is symptomatic of a more general debate over the proper role of appeals to cognition in understanding cultural change and cultural stasis: cultural evolutionists have tended to argue that cognition has central explanatory relevance, while many social anthropologists (with some notable exceptions) have recently been sceptical of such appeals to cognition (Bloch 2012). In this conference, our contributors look at the question of whether cognition itself occurs solely ‘in human brains’, or whether cognition should instead be properly thought of as occurring partly in embodied action, or partly in extra-bodily artefacts (Clark and Chalmers 1998). Appeals to embodied or extended forms of cognition open up the possibility of a variety of rapprochements between cultural evolution and social anthropology, for they signal moves away from a conceptualisation of cultural traits as atoms located in the heads of individuals, and towards a notion of cognition as partially constituted by, or realised in, social and technical environments (Henare et al 2007).

 

Sponsors

  

Supported by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CRASSH), University of Cambridge, and the European Research Council

 

Accommodation for non-paper giving delegates

We are unable to arrange accommodation, however, the following websites may be of help.

Visit Cambridge
Cambridge Rooms
University of Cambridge accommodation webpage

NB. CRASSH is not able to help with the booking of accommodation.

 

Administrative assistance: conferences@crassh.cam.ac.uk

Programme

Location : S1, Alison Richard Building

Date : 19-20 September 2013

Thursday 19 September

 

12.30 - 13.00

Registration

13.00 - 13.45

Lunch

13.45 - 14.00

Welcome and Introduction

14.00 - 15.15

Wybo Houkes: Technology and cumulative cultural evolution

15.15 - 15.45

Tea

15.45 - 17.00

Emma Flynn: Developmental niche construction

17.00

Close

 


 

Friday 20 September

 

9.30 - 10.45

Michael Wheeler: Moving out: Cultural evolution and extended cognition

10.45 - 11.15

Tea

11.15 - 12.30

Cecelia Heyes: Cultural inheritance of mindreading

12.30 - 13.30 

Lunch 

13.30 - 14.45

Tim Ingold: Personal knowledge: Embodied, extended or animate?

14.45 - 15.15

Tea 

15.15 - 16.45 

Jesse Prinz: The culturally embodied mind

16.45 

Close