ENSO Seminar Series

Material Agency and Cloud Technology

Rob Clowes

Lisbon Mind & Cognition Group, ARGLAB, Nova Institute of Philosophy, New University of Lisbon
Oct. 6, 2017, 9 a.m. UTC // Oct. 6, 2017, 5 a.m. in America/New_York
It is often claimed these days that human agency is under threat through our interaction with Internet technology (Carr, 2010; Loh & Kanai, 2015). Much of recent work has been offering a critical stance on these ideas from a broadly 4E approach to cognitive science. However, Human Agency has proved difficult to fully grasp for cognitive science, 4E or otherwise. Work like Bratman´s ideas on strong agency emphasizes the planfulness, reflectivity and self-regulating character of human agency (Bratman, 2000). Bratman´s captures something important but can also seem to have an almost idealizing bent. Very little is said about how and why such capacities arise or why only humans apparently are strong agents in the way he describes. Lambros Malafouris´ Material Engagement Theory (Malafouris, 2013) provides a useful perspective for rethinking strong agency through the prism of human cognitive dependence on material culture. Something that cognitive science has also found it difficult to fully grasp. In this talk, I will explore how Bratman properties arise through human creation and interaction with material culture. I will then turn this analysis around to look at the Internet which is a new form of material culture upon which we have become deeply reliant. This talk will explore how a material agency approach may help us grasp this technology and some of the problem generated when considering the “material stuff” of the Internet. Bratman, M. (2000). Reflection, planning, and temporally extended agency. The Philosophical Review, 109(1), 35-61. Carr, N. (2010). The Shallows: How the internet is changing the way we think, read and remember. London: Atlantic Books. Loh, K. K., & Kanai, R. (2015). How has the Internet reshaped human cognition? The Neuroscientist, 1073858415595005. Malafouris, L. (2013). How Things Shape the Mind: MIT Press.

Event page: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsnrqKJaIS0