Explaining Enculturated Cognition


Many of our cognitive capacities are shaped by enculturation. Enculturation is the temporally extended transformative acquisition of cognitive practices such as reading, writing, and mathematics. They are embodied and normatively constrained ways to interact with epistemic resources (e.g., writing systems, number systems). Enculturation is associated with significant changes of the organization and connectivity of the brain and of the functional profiles of embodied actions and motor programs. Furthermore, it has a socio-culturally structured dimension, because it relies on cumulative cultural evolution and on the socially distributed acquisition of cognitive norms governing the engagement with epistemic resources. This paper argues that we need distinct, yet complementary levels of explanation and corresponding temporal scales. This leads to explanatory pluralism about enculturated cognition, which is the view that we need multiple perspectives and explanatory strategies to account for the complexity of enculturation.

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