Anthropological Contributions to Cognitive Science


Anthropology was a founding member of cognitive science (Bender et al., 2010; Gardner, 1985), sharing with other cognitive disciplines a deep interest in thinking and behavior. With its unique expertise in the cultural content, context, and constitution of cognition, it would still be essential to any comprehensive endeavor to explore the human mind (Bloch, 2012), but rather has turned into cognitive science’s “missing discipline” (Boden, 2006), thus leaving important questions unanswered or even unasked. Given that substantial shares of knowledge are implicit and that cognition is situated, distributed, embodied, and grounded in various other ways, anthropological approaches provide privileged access to investigation: for arriving at reasonable hypotheses, ensuring ecological validity, and even for coming up with new research questions and paradigms (Astuti & Bloch, 2012; Hutchins, 2010; Nersessian, 2006).

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