Keeping a sense of self. Pathologies and preferences of self and agency

Beril Sözmen


Archaeologists, neuroscientists and philosophers all aim to shed light on the holistic and coconstitutive role played by bodies and brains, objects and culture over the course of hominin cognitive evolution. Recent advances in neuroscience and brain imaging have enabled exploration of the foundation for tool using capacity in modern human brains. In tandem with this has been the development of cognitive archaeology, a perspective that seeks to uncover and engage with past ways of thought, as these can be inferred from surviving material remains. What I will suggest in this paper is that the phenomenological perspective can contribute to the methodological drive in cognitive archaeology. Phenomenology provides just the kind of access to consciousness and the mind required for an understanding of “ways of thought and action”, including past ways of thought and action, to emerge. I will argue that pragmatic meaningbestowing agency is operative throughout the Palaeolithic and I will suggest how empirical evidence can be understood in the terms suggested by phenomenological philosophers.


phenomenology; cognitive; archaeology; tools; manufacture; agency

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