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The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition Paperback – Nov 3 2008
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"Situated cognition has become a hot topic in cognitive science, encompassing a broad range of disciplines and theories concerning the relationship between mind, body and the world. The Cambridge Handbook provides an indispensable guide to the best ideas and controversies concerning the problems of embodied, embedded, distributed and situated cognition.
Publication of the Handbook is a landmark in bringing together the foremost theorists in a comprehensive, interdisciplinary collection. The chapters are original overviews concerning historical, foundational, theoretical and empirical issues from philosophy, neuroscience, linguistics, psychology, AI and robotics.
The collection is a definitive resource for understanding the central issues in cognitive science today concerning mental representations, their meaning and their grounding interactions with the body and the external world."
-Dr. Peter Slezak, University of New South Wales
"...If you are interested in exploring what all the buzz is about concerning terms like situated cognition, situativity, action theory, embodied cognition, embodiment, and distributed cognition, then The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition is worth your perusal...tantalizing ideas and pieces of evidence all in search of a testable theory of cognition..."
-Richard E. Mayer, PsycCRITIQUES [September 2, 2009, Vol. 54]
"... A fascinating feature of the Handbook is that there is tremendous variability amongst contributors in terms of their willingness to adopt the more radical consequences of the situated approach... Given that the more radical ideas presented in The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition have the potential to completely redefine the proper domain of cognitive psychology and cognitive science, it is essential reading..."
-Michael Dawson, Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne
"...This volume is a rich source of ideas and references for further exploration, covering every aspect of cognitive activity and engaging the full range of supporters and opponents of the basic ideas. References are listed separately for each chapter, but there is an integrated index. The work will be essential background for any course in cognitive science, and it can also serve as a convenient desk reference for researchers in AI, robotics, and other systems that require careful consideration of the relation between thinking and the world."
-H. Van Dyke Parunak, Computing Reviews
This is a state-of-the-art guide to this new movement in cognitive science. Each chapter tackles either a specific area of empirical research or specific sector of the conceptual foundation underlying this research.See all Product Description
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
If it's not obvious, I'm a humanities guy, and not a scientist, but I've found all of these chapters immensely pleasurable and informative. The authors are all (it seems) top-notch in their fields, yet manage to keep from in-fighting and straw-manning. They are even able to present specialized theories and data in a way that makes sense to semi-intelligent and motivated neophytes. All of the authors portray an air of humility about their theories and the conceivable contributions of situated/embodied cognition, which makes for a balanced reading. Chapters are succinct, but don't feel rushed. Check the table of contents for the wide-ranging issues of discussion.
There's plenty of open and easy flowing prose from the highest grade US and global academics, who seem to be having fun and enjoying the debate they're collating, summarizing, reviewing and extending here. Introductory papers outline the historical philosophical antecedents, and the contemporary philosophic and scientific concerns, of the field of situated cognition; from Merleau-Ponty to cybernetics and the cognitive sciences. The book is well grounded and fleshed out in its field - seems itself a palpably socio-political phenomenon of the situation of cognition; playing out, as it does, the tension between the independently existing, ideal subject of cognition and a more socially and environmentally distributed experience of cognition's location. The book chases after the material location of cognition [or/and information processing or/and, 'Could this be consciousness here - the embodied substance of it?'] I enjoyed the playing out of the conceptual challenge presented by the way in which the functional successes of cybernetics and robotics seem to be ratifying understanding cognition, perception and information processing as taking place in the accessible world and not in some abstract or internal location.
Metaphysics gets turned around so that it's the dualists who increasingly appear to be the unsubstantiated, abstract speculators. Their unlocatable homunculi and interior representations are gazumped by progressively understanding consciousness as utterly configured by its location, taken up by environment, bound even conceptually in dependence upon it and structured by its structures and manifest only there, not detached and isolated. This is therapy for the alienated subject. As the frontispiece says, 'Some argue that this new orientation calls for a revolutionary new metaphysics of mind, according to which mental states and processes, and even persons, literally extend into the environment.' It was only delusion and neurosis that imagined people could ever be detached from the world.
But: The scientist authors, herein, often go gallivanting off into realms of philosophical speculation, the philosophers get so excited about the possibilities of scientific processes and the descriptions they provide for understanding consciousness as its location, that even they sometimes forget their own, logical discipline and end up not noticing the trouble they're running into - especially those reactionary Cartesians, who trip over the contradictions inherent in subject/object dualism and are resistant to the coalescence of their dearly held, but merely posited, extremes.
And: Although the book provides what seems to be an extensive overview of the field, it feels a little reserved. Most of the contributors express their reservations and hold back from a commitment to following the implications of cognition being situated. They look at it warily from conservative positions instead of jumping in at the deep end. Perhaps the work that is postulated has still not been undertaken, is still held back from for various personal and political reasons. So much so that the book often seems as much a counter statement than the investigation and adventure its preface promises. The resistance often feels like fear of the implications - the way that most scientists acknowledge that there is no evidence of there being anything other than the physical chains of material causation that make up the world, nothing that escapes physics, and yet still hang on to presumptions of free will, agency and objectivity in their analyses.
Maybe, like the contributors, wherever you prefer to conceptualize or feel the actuality of cognition, during the process of reading this book, you're likely to find it located where you are. In your head? In the book? In the world? But the field of situated cognition may, ultimately [depending on where you start from] nudge or force you into a new location.
So it remains an interesting question why philosophers' studied ignorance of feminist work counts for them as an achievement. And why so many recommended the ignorant comment.
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