Dissertation Defense Announcement
College of Arts and Sciences announces the Final Dissertation Defense
for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
March 22, 2022 at 3:00 PM in Clement Hall 333
Advisor: Dr. Shaun Gallagher
The Cultural Mind
ABSTRACT: "This dissertation is composed of several independent chapters, each developing a critical analysis of various prominent theories in cognitive science. It takes a theoretical approach based in embodied and enactive cognitive science as well as phenomenological philosophy. The overarching question that it asks is, How do humans, as cognitive agents, develop sensorimotor attunements to their cultural environments? Essentially, it provides an embodied and cultural critique of cognitive science, arguing that cognition is deeply embedded in cultural practices, institutions, and material arrangements. While there has recently been a greater awareness that there are cultural variations in cognition, this dissertation goes further in arguing that cultural networks are constitutively part of cognition. In Chapter 1, I introduce the central concepts of the dissertation and outline the history of the philosophy of culture, ranging from the Hippocratic corpus, Aristotle, Hegel, and Merleau-Ponty. I outline ways in which the questions that they asked concerning culture continue to inform those I raise in relation to cognitive science. In Chapter 2, I examine the complex systems approach to cognitive science, arguing that it cannot end at the individual agent. While the brain is a complex system, it is imbricated within a series of complex systems, including the body as well as wider sociocultural networks of practices, institutions, and artifacts. In Chapter 3, I examine dual-process theories of cognition, which divide cognitive processes into those that are 1) rapid, intuitive, and nonconscious and 2) slow, rational, and conscious. I argue that the rapid and intuitive category of cognitive processes includes the body and culturally-embedded practices. In Chapter 4, I examine the cognitive structure of selfhood through the lens of the global workspace theory of consciousness. I argue that this approach implies extraneural factors in social and cultural practices and material arrangements. Finally, in Chapter 5, I examine trauma theory and argue that psychological trauma has bases in cultural attunements to particular environments and situations. Overall, the dissertation argues that cognition cannot be isolated from the social and cultural networks in which it is embedded because they exert top-down causal influence on individual agents."