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Cognition in the Wild (Bradford Books)

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  148 ratings  ·  13 reviews
Edwin Hutchins combines his background as an anthropologist and an open ocean racing sailor and navigator in this account of how anthropological methods can be combined with cognitive theory to produce a new reading of cognitive science. His theoretical insights are grounded in an extended analysis of ship navigation -- its computational basis, its historical roots, its ...more
Paperback, 402 pages
Published August 26th 1996 by Bradford Books (first published 1995)
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Apr 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: social-science
Why is this book so good? The prose is solid, but rather workmanlike at times. Yet it is utterly a classic. At its core, Hutchins argues that we think in an environment -- that how we are not a computer that sits on its own, and interfaces with an environment. Instead, we are fundamentally a part of that environment. Moreover, a well-constructed environment can let us, as part of a team, think things we cannot individually thing. He develops this notion in terms of the way a navigating team, ...more
Jul 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cogsci, books-i-own
I read this book for Professor Hutchins' class on distributed cognition, and I loved it. The reading takes seemingly ordinary events on a Naval Carrier and breaks them down to illustrate the ways in which cognition is not only in the brain but also situated in the world. Sometimes a bit one-sided, but an important book that will change the way you view the world.
Nov 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Fascinating analysis of navigation methods, and the neurocogntive structures they suggest. Compares Western, tool-dependent navigation to purely mentation based methods of tribal pacific islanders.
Nov 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
I get it, an extended metaphor on distributed cognition. But holy moly, hard to read and lots of detail.
Cynde Moya
Jul 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Pretty amazing phenomenological ethnography. Detailed, complicated, yet grounded in [bracketed] reality.
Nov 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: reality
I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone at least he or she is really involved into applied psychology or cognition studies. The author is a qualified anthropologist and psychologist who got involved as ethnographer in an on duty U.S. navy vessel. His main study was to explore how "social cognition" and individuals are interrelated while navigating the seas. Assuming that complex tasks and decisions can not be made by a single individual, he tested "the individuals" separately into what he calls ...more
Stuart Macalpine
Jan 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I had seriously high expectations of this book, which realistically it was not going to meet... but it is a brilliant and imaginative ethnographic account of the nature of a 'cognitive ecosystem'.

The lengthy aside on how Micronesian navigators use 'imaginary, over-the-horizon islands' and the azimuth of groups of stars that form 'star lines' or a 'sidereal compass' to navigate for days out of sight of land to make landfall on extremely small atolls, is fascinating.

One of the most interesting
Aug 11, 2011 rated it liked it
"Interesting, though a bit dry at times. While I agree with him that cognition certainly has external, social and cultural elements, I'm not really convinced that he has successfully argued against the conventional, internal, symbol-oriented view of cognition."
Jan 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Distributed cognition is something that many still can't wrap their heads around, and Hutchins work is what brought this way of thinking out of the shadows and gave it a name.
Apr 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Great book, really makes you think about how we think.
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