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date: 19 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Human intelligence and its evolution have always been inextricably linked with the material forms people make. Archaeology and anthropology may well testify that human beings are not merely embedded in a rich and changing universe of things; rather, human cognitive and social life is a process genuinely mediated and often constituted by them. The specific details, varieties, and forms of that process are not well understood and demand a cross-disciplinary approach. This chapter argues for the need to add a strong material culture dimension of research in the area of 4E (embodied–embedded–extended–enactive) cognition. Material engagement theory (MET) is proposed as a framework suitable for bridging the analytical gap between 4E cognition and the study of material culture. The notion of “thing-ing” is used to draw attention to the modes of cognitive life instantiated in acts of thinking and feeling with, through, and about things.

Keywords: anthropology, archaeology, material culture, things, evolution, thinging, material engagement theory (MET)

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