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Philosophical Thought

From Cognitive Archaeology to a Theory of the Mind, Involved in the Material World. The Foundations of Lambros Malafouris' Material Engagement Theory

Tikhonov Anatolii Sergeevich

Doctor of Philosophy

Professor, Department of Humanities, Chuvash State Agrarian University

428000, Russia, Republic of Chuvashia, Cheboksary, K. Marx str., 29

Semenov Vladimir Grigor'evich

Doctor of Biology

Professor, Department of Morphology, Obstetrics and Therapy, Chuvash State Agrarian University

42800, Russia, Republic of Chuvashia, Cheboksary, K. Marx str., 29

Mikhailova Renata Vasil'evna

Doctor of Philosophy

Professor, Department of Humanities, Chuvash State Agrarian University

42800, Russia, Republic of Chuvashia, Cheboksary, K. Marx str., 29

Agaeva Ekaterina Vasil'evna

PhD in History

Associate Professor, Department of Humanities, Chuvash State Agrarian University

428000, Russia, Republic of Chuvashia, Cheboksary, K. Marx str., 29

Vorobev Dmitrii Nikolaevich

ORCID: 0000-0002-0581-4500

PhD in Philosophy

Senior Lecturer, iSpring Institute.

424000, Russia, Republic of Mari El, Yoshkar-Ola, Voznesenskaya str., 110

Other publications by this author

Ivanova Elena Nikolaevna

PhD in Philology

Associate Professor, Department of Humanities, Chuvash State Agrarian University

428000, Russia, Republic of Chuvashia, Cheboksary, K. Marx str., 29

Sergeeva Nadezhda Aleksandrovna

Lecturer, Department of Humanities, Chuvash State Agrarian University

428000, Russia, Republic of Chuvashia, Cheboksary, K. Marx str., 29










Abstract: The aim of the study is to uncover the conceptual foundations of Lambros Malafouris' Material Engagement Theory. In order to realise this aim, we have used comparative-historical and analytical-interpretative methods to explicate the genesis, basic assumptions and concepts of the theory. In particular, we have shown that the theory of mind development, involved in the material world, arises in the framework of Colin Renfrew's cognitive-processual archeology. Using evidence from material culture, its proponents attempt to answer the question of the emergence and development of human cognitive functions. To find an answer to the question, Malafouris uses the treatment of the mind as extended into the external world, applying the metaphor of creative dynamic co-evolution. Mind emerges and functions through an ongoing process of mutual enactment of embodied mind and material environment. To identify the specifics of this co-evolutionary treatment, we have explicated the key concepts of material engagement theory: metaplasticity, material agency and material-enactivating signification. They characterise the effects of the cognitive-material engagement process. The scientific significance lies in the fact that of the study contributes to understanding the heuristic potential of Material Engagement Theory, which is emerging within the research programme of embodied cognition.


embodied cognition, enactivism, signification, material sign, cognitive science, neuroarchaeology, extended cognition, Material Engagement Theory, material agency, enactive sign

This article is automatically translated. You can find original text of the article here.

In recent years, the development of the "externalist paradigm" in modern philosophy and cognitive science has continued. One of the fruitful attempts to understand the process of human consciousness in a new way by including in the field of scientific and philosophical reflection of the real conditions of human activity is the research program "embodied cognition" (e mbodied cognition). The key idea of this program is the idea of the rootedness of cognition in the experience of the interaction of the physical body with the surrounding world. One of the promising areas developed within the framework of the Embodied Cognition program was the theory of Material Engagement Theory Lambros Malafuris.

This concept emerged as the second wave of cognitive-procedural archaeology, the founder of which was the teacher of Malafouris, the famous English archaeologist Colin Renfrew [41],[42],[43],[44],[46],[47]. Cognitive-procedural archaeology was designed to explain how to "use existing methods of archaeological research to study the early use of symbols and the development of cognitive processes" [46, p. 4]; how archaeology, as the science of forms of human material culture (and such forms include concrete embodiments of socio-cultural practices in things, artifacts, objects and material signs), can become a partner of cognitive sciences studying the formation of the human mind [46, p. 4-12]. Exploring how signs and symbols arise, how symbols were actually used by the ancestors of modern people, cognitive archaeology tries to answer two questions. First, to the question of the evolution of cognitive abilities from earlier life forms, through fossil monkeys to Australopithecus, Homo habilis, Homo erectus and Homo sapiens. Secondly, to what extent did the thinking of Homo sapiens in early societies differ from "modern thinking" [46, p. 6].

Malafouris states that in the search for answers to these questions, scientists, following archaeologists, need to return to things; it is necessary to take seriously the materiality of the human body, culture and the mind itself. The human mind, for Malafuris, is not a "disembodied ghost of an information processing system caught in the laboratories of neuroscience" [28, p. 133], but the effect of a materially mediated action. Malafouris states the important role of creativity, the creation of new tools and material forms, interaction with material objects, bodies for understanding the mind and the process of formation of human consciousness as a species [27],[29]. He believes that artifacts are not external products of human thinking, but rather integral parts of the thinking process itself, so by studying artifacts you can study human thinking.

The concept of material involvement was developed in a number of works by Lambros Malafouris, written alone and with colleagues, and the theory was presented in a systematic form in the 2013 book "How Things Form the Mind: the Theory of Material Involvement" [28]. The ideas of this concept are convergent to the principles of the concepts of radical enactivism (see: [18],[12]), expanded consciousness [13], distributed cognition (see: [16],[17]), actor-network theory (see: [23], etc.) and postphenomenology [20],[19].

Malafouris represents the interaction between people and things based on the principles of relational-holistic ontology [28, p. 35]. In the concept of Malafuris, material things are not passive material that a person uses in his activities; they have some "agency", i.e. the ability to be agents of action, to influence a person. Man, as a biosocial being, transforms the environment, creates and uses artifacts, which, in turn, set the conditions and possibilities of human life. The human brain, human body and activity, as well as the products of this activity (such as tools, signs, material things), do not exist separately, they are involved in a continuum of interaction. In this continuum there is no center and periphery, there is no inner world and outer, object and subject. Agency is not a property of people or things, but rather arises as an effect or property of the process of material interaction [28, p. 18].

Criticism of cognitivism and representation theoryCentral to Malafouris' theory is the critique of "traditional cognitivism" in psychology and representation theory.

Cognitivism, which emerged in the 1950s and became dominant in the 1970s, characterizes the use of the metaphor of the mind as a computing device. The mind is located in the human brain and is engaged in calculations. During these calculations, information from the outside world is processed and representations of reality accumulate in the internal memory of the mind. Mental processes are considered by analogy with computational processes in a computer [15, pp. 215-226]. Cognitivism, in this sense, refers to the so-called internalist, "intracranial" theories of the mind and is based on the following assumptions: the mind is inside a person and is localized in the brain; a clear boundary should be drawn between cognitive (intracerebral) processes and the processes of interaction of the mind with the external, non-cognitive, material environment; representations exist only in consciousness; artifacts are products of human activity in the outside world. (see for more details: [10, pp. 43-64]).

Malafouris criticizes Cartesianism and the internalist interpretation of the mind, which arose in traditional cognitivism, from the standpoint of the theory of embodied (embodied mind/cognition) [51], enactive [4] and extended cognition [13],[14]. For the enactive approach, there is no center from which cognition originates [38],[18]. All cognitive development is the result of an ongoing interaction between the brain, body and environment. The key concept becomes experience, understood as contextual and embodied. The world enactivates the mind. The latter, in turn, enactivates the environment. So the world and the mind begin to condition each other [4, p. 173-174],[3].

The cognitive metaphor of a computer is unproductive because it is based on an unacceptable simplification and does not take into account the real parameters of human existence as a biosocial being, cannot explain how this computer originated and evolves. According to Malafouris, the opposition of mind and matter, subject and object is a categorical error. Criticizing the theory of representation in cognitivism, she writes that representation here is only "a mechanism by which we can feed our cognitive apparatus with facts and information from the outside world" [28, p. 26], that "the only representations that have significant or real significance for human cognition are found outside the head" [28, p. 31].

Instead of a computational metaphor, Malafouris suggests using a metaphor of creative dynamic coevolution. The mind arises and functions in the course of mutual enactivation of the embodied brain and the cultivated material environment. Cognition is the production of meanings in the process of dynamic interaction of the embodied brain and forms of material and technical culture. At the same time, the mind is not localized in the "space between the ears", because it is impossible to clearly separate the brain from the nervous system, and the work of the nervous system from the work of other physiological systems, to separate the mind from the products of the mind. Reason, from this point of view, is not only the "driving principle" of material interaction, but the effect of this process. Artifacts are not so much external products of human thinking, but rather integral parts of the thinking process itself. According to Malafuris, it is impossible to separate the biological and cultural evolution of man. By inventing and using cognitive tools (symbols, counting system) and material tools (hammer or chisel), the embodied brain creates a cultivated environment. The latter, in turn, sets the conditions and possibilities for further human evolution, the use of technical innovations that transform the cultural environment, etc.

The main postulates of the theory of material involvement In order to better understand the meaning of Malafouris' theory, we explicate the postulates and ideas that the author of the theory of material involvement of the enactivated mind considers key.

These are metaplasticity, material agency and material-enactivating signification. All of them, from the point of view of Malafouris, should be considered as interrelated characteristics or effects of the process of dynamic interaction of the expanded embodied mind with the transformed material environment.

Metaplasticity. Malafouris proceeds from the assumption that cognition was closely intertwined with material culture throughout the creative co-evolution of the mind and the transformed human environment, neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to change) is convergent with cultural plasticity (variability of ways of materializing things) [24],[28]. The course of this evolution of reason and material and technical culture is characterized by the presence of a feedback loop: changes in cognitive functions manifest themselves in changes in the forms of material culture and vice versa [30],[31].

The idea of metaplasticity of symbiotic coevolution of mind and material culture is convergent to the concept of extended cognition [32]. This concept rethinks the relationship between the external and internal world of the cognizing subject, between cause and effect in the process of cognition. Proponents of the socalled "active externalism" formulated by E. Clark and D. Chalmers [13] believe that artifacts it does not matter whether they are "material" or "ideal" - actually become part of the psyche, and the mental process expands into the external, material world. For example, counting systems (numerical sets, mathematical symbols, operations with them, etc.) are artifacts of the human mind. It is obvious that the use of counting systems transforms a person's cognitive abilities; similarly, the use of a letter (a notebook for notes and a fountain pen) or a similar smartphone application expands a person's memory into the material world. The concept of extended cognition can be transformed to the concept of distributed cognition, when knowledge is understood as socially extended to other agents, to people with whom we work closely [3].

Malafouris uses the methodological principle of symmetry of explanation. The principle arises in the "strong program" of David Bloor's sociology of knowledge, and is used in a more radical form in the sociology of translation (actor-network theory) John Law, Bruno Latour with followers or the concept of the "dance of agency" between people and artifacts by Andrew Pickering [40], which postulates explanatory and active symmetry between human and non-human agents, their mutual interweaving. Malafouris proposes to abandon the special status of a person as a subject and an endless source of activity, which is opposed by passive objects. He suggests taking material culture seriously, exploring the constitutive effect of material culture on a person [28].

The concept of metaplasticity in Malafuris does not coincide with the concept of metaplasticity in neuroscience. Initially, Wycliffe Abraham and Mark Bear introduced the concept of metaplasticity to characterize the plasticity of individual synapses of the brain, to characterize a situation where the previous history of synapse activity determines its current plasticity [9]. Metaplasticity in the theory of Malafouris is a metaphor for the ability of people and things to change plastically during their interaction. That is, Malafuris metaplasticity has neuroplasticity expanded into the material world. Metaplasticity characterizes the emergent feedback loop of the process of mutual constitution of a plastic mind and a changing material and technical culture [39].

In this context, the human mind should be understood as a "biological artifact" because it is no longer a product of natural selection. The appearance and development of the mind, from this point of view, are due to the previous results of the active adaptation of the embodied brain to existence in a transformed environment [30],[28]. At the same time, the mind of Malafuris is understood not as a thing, but as a process. A person and his psyche are open to the external environment and changes, fundamentally incomplete [34]. Cultural practices, designed in the form of artifacts, creating new opportunities and objects of needs, act as agents of change [28],[31].

In fairness, it is worth noting that the idea of a close relationship between the evolution of the human mind and the evolution of culture is not new. The novelty of Malafouris' theory lies in how, with the help of what metaphors and concepts, he explains the mechanism of this relationship, what accents he places. In 1980-1990, the theory of human genetic and cultural coevolution was formulated. Its supporters write about the significant cultural influence of human activity on the genetic evolution of man, about the need to rethink the original influence of human culture on his biology [50]. This interpretation of human development is consonant with I. M. Feigenberg's theory of the Completed Man (Homo sapiens perimplens) [8]. From the point of view of I. M. Feigenberg, the cultural and technical development of Homo sapiens should be considered as a continuation of the biological development of man; however, it should be borne in mind that this development occurs in fundamentally new ways with increasing speed. A reasonable person improves himself: completes, complements, expands. A reasonable person independently creates the means to realize his life tasks, as well as to preserve and improve his own reasonable nature. A person increases his motor abilities, improves and completes the key systems of his vital activity: thermoregulation, memory and prediction systems, reproduction, sensory system, digestion, etc. [6]. "If in the process of biological evolution for a very long time limbs were formed that were able to perform complex movements better and better," writes I. M. Feigenberg, "then a Reasonable Person continued this process at an incomparably faster pace, completing his arm. In essence, the history of technology is largely the completion of the hand. Firearms, construction vehicles, missiles... The completed human hand now allows him to literally move mountains from their places, get and bring samples from the surface of the Moon to Earth" [8, p. 152].

Material agency. This concept is intended to explain how in the course of the interaction of mind and material things, the latter acquire causal efficacy, the ability to determine human activity.

Criticism of Cartesianism and traditional cognitivism leads Malafouris to the need to rethink the usual metaphysical oppositions of the external world and the internal, consciousness and matter, subject and object, explicable and explanatory, etc. Malafouris appropriates the vocabulary of actor-network theory, in which this rethinking has already been carried out, and tries to adapt the controversial concepts of "agency" and "agent" to solve his tasks. And first of all, the tasks of explaining how human cognitive functions arose and developed.

Although in philosophy, agency has traditionally been understood as the ability to act intentionally, and the implementation of agency consisted in performing intentional actions [48] the actor-network interpretation of agency excludes intention. The concept of agency in actor-network theory is used to characterize the situational ability of interaction participants (actors) to have a causal effect, to produce an effect [2]. Unlike the subject, by which it is customary in philosophy to understand a person endowed by nature with activity, the concept of agency in actor-network theory can characterize human and non-human actors (meaning robots, animals, artifacts of various kinds, natural forces, etc.) regardless of the degree of consciousness of the latter.

For example, a meteoroid, the fall of which was felt by the residents of Chelyabinsk on February 15, 2013, can be considered as an agent. Because he, moving at a speed of about 30 km/s, had a situational ability to influence people and nature (agency): he caused a shock wave that caused damage to many hundreds of windows and roofs in the city. Following the shock wave, seismologists recorded an earthquake with a magnitude of 4 points, and local authorities, in the end, were forced to close, cancel classes at the Chelyabinsk school for 2 days and introduce an emergency regime [5].

Following his demand to take things seriously, Malafouris focuses on the causal effect of forms and practices of material culture on the human mind, focuses on the materiality of agency itself [22]. He criticizes the human-centered interpretation of agency, when it is customary to assign the first violin to a person during interaction with material things, because he is the original carrier of consciousness and action, he has intentions and a plan. The interpretation of the original human agency does not explain how the human mind arises in the course of interaction with material things. Malafouris omits the stage of planning and conception of the artifact, he considers only the stage of direct situational interaction with the material, when in a dynamic act the mind and the material mutually condition each other.

Thus, Malafouris comes to a relational interpretation of agency: agents arise directly during interaction, the process is primary, and not the participants in the process. Material agency is the effect of human interaction with material culture [28],[25].

A paradigmatic example of material agency in Malafouris is the work of a potter on a potter's wheel (see [28] Chapter 9). In this interaction, a person acquires a poorly explicable knowledge of working with clay. Malafouris considers clay to be one of the earliest examples of neurocompatible materials. Neurocompatible here refers to materials that allow you to project meanings and meaning onto yourself, thus connecting neural and cultural plasticity. A person gives quality and shape to clay, but the thickness of the walls of the pot, the degree of pressure, the nature of the movement of the hands are determined by the material itself. During the interaction, a person influences an artifact, and an artifact causally affects a person [26],[28].

The relational interpretation of agency, proposed by Malafouris and colleagues, has caused criticism of researchers who share the positions of the expanded mind. They believe that the relational interpretation misses the essential properties of agency. For example, proponents of the cognitive-semiotic interpretation of agency, Juan Mendoza-Collazos and Jordan Zlatev, believe that in the course of interaction with material bodies, not the emergence, but the strengthening of already existing agency occurs [35]; and also in the course of interaction, meaning arises. Malafouris overlooks the fundamentally asymmetric relationship between the subject/agent and the environment, as well as the basic identity of the agent [11]. Therefore, the agency of artifacts should be considered as a derivative [36]; like nonverbal signs and languages, in order to maintain agency, artifacts must be used, interpreted or adapted by human beings in human cultures [37].

The material is an enactivating signification. Criticizing the cognitive theory of representation, Malafouris proposes a theory of "material" or enactive signs. The enactive sign is defined by Malafuris in the spirit of pragmatism as a thing that prescribes and permits some action. Such signs do not arise as internal representations of the phenomena of the external world, but as marks appeared and left during sensorimotor interaction with materials and/or on material surfaces [28] which can later be endowed with meaning. The signifier and the signified appear simultaneously, at the moment their connection is discovered. Meaning is not a product of representation, but a product of the integration process between the material and conceptual domains [28, p. 90].

In the expanded interpretation of the mind, which Malafouris defends, the boundaries between the external world and the internal, between the material and the cognitive, are blurred. The embodied mind is captured by the surrounding world, and the material environment becomes part of the human psychic sphere. In the course of the cultural and historical development of the mind, thanks to the ability to signification, a person himself changes his nature, and this idea is consonant with the ideas of L. S. Vygotsky [1, p 9-10],[7],[49]. Malafouris contrasts the concept of representation with the concept of cognitive projection. Cognitive projection, Malafouris writes, is "the comprehensive and (in most cases) unconscious ability of a cognitive agent to establish direct implicit ontological correspondences between areas of experience. (...) The projection between phenomenal domain A and phenomenal domain B (mental or physical) is not a representation of domain A through B; it is the establishment of an ontological correspondence between A and B. More specifically, these ontological correspondences primarily include connections of identity, analogy, similarity, causality, change, time, intentionality, space, roles, parts and the whole..." [28, p. 100].

The concept of cognitive projection is based on the concept of K. Renfrew's constitutive symbols, which precede the emergence of concepts and arise during the establishment of correspondences of different elements of experience. Renfrew defines a constitutive symbol as a sign where a symbolic or cognitive element and a material element coexist in a sense immanently and where one has no meaning without the other [45]. Malafouris borrows from Renfrew's book an example with weight and its measurement. He considers this example a good illustration of the close structural connection between the supposedly internal and external areas of the conceptual map of man. "If weight has any meaning," Malafouris writes, "then this meaning can be comprehended primarily by an intelligent body, and not by an embodied brain. To talk about weight in a disembodied sense is to talk about numerical relations, and not about weight as a meaningful experience. These relationships, however, are possible only after the weight has emerged as a symbol in the context of practice, that is, as an embodied meaningful experience. That is why in this case, as Renfrew suggests, the symbol precedes the concept" [28, p. 99].

Continuing the line of reasoning of his teacher, Malafouris gives an example of the emergence of the meaning of quantity during the conceptual projection of mental experience on material objects. Children are already at the preverbal stage of development when manipulating lumps of clay are able to perceive the amount. The child is able without referring to the account to perceive the quantity directly, to perceive with his eyes and hands that two lumps of clay are less than three lumps of clay [21]. Thus, in the course of mixing the two areas of experience, the formation of a material sign occurs. Clumps of clay do not represent the quantity, but immanently contain or carry it on themselves. Similarly, the concept of quantity develops gradually in the course of the emergence of new ways of human interaction with things. Thinking, from this point of view, is directly related to action it is the process of creating things and interacting with things, the process of embodying actions (thinging) during interaction with matter [27],[33].

Conclusion. The goal of Malafouris is to create a new conceptual apparatus that would allow presenting the theory of mind involvement in the material world as a research program that links together archaeology, anthropology, philosophy and cognitive sciences in order to answer the question of how, in the course of mutual enactivation of the embodied mind and the material and technical environment, human cognitive functions arise and develop. Instead of the cognitive metaphor of the mind that has exhausted its potential as a computer, which accumulates representations of the external world inside itself during calculations, the theory of material involvement offers a metaphor of symbiotic cognitive-material coevolution. It is proposed to consider the mind as embodied, as expanded into the material world; cognitive-psychological and material artifacts as something derived from the primary process of cognitive-material interaction.

It cannot be said that at the moment the theory of the mind involved in the material world is deeply elaborated and consistent. Now it looks more like a conceptual sketch consisting of bold assumptions and vivid images. The concepts of material agency and material sign sound like an oxymoron and are rightly criticized by colleagues. However, Malafouris' desire for the operationalization of abstract concepts and convergence with theories developed within the framework of the embodied cognition research program, as well as the very idea of the interdependence of changes in cognitive functions with changes in the forms of material culture, which forms the conceptual core of the theory, have heuristic potential. Over time, on the basis of this conceptual core, such theoretical propositions can be formulated, which, perhaps, can be supported by empirical research, which means there is a possibility that this theory can become a point of growth for cognitive and philosophical research.


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The subject of the research of the presented article is the concept of L. Malafouris' material involvement, its continuity with the ideas of Colin Renfrew, cognitive archaeology, and the theory of mind development. The methodology of the research consists in the representation of the key ideas of Lambros Malafouris, their analytical analysis and comparative analysis of various approaches to the study of human intellectual abilities. The relevance of the research is due to the need to develop a new paradigm in the interpretation of the human cognitive process, rethink the anthropo-oriented approach rooted in Modern times and the recognition of the fact that knowledge of the world will be realized by a person not only intellectually, but also physically. The author suggests, based on the experience of Malafouris, to rethink the process of human consciousness by including the real conditions of human life in the field of scientific and philosophical reflection. The very representation of L. Malafouris' ideas, which are insufficiently known, in the Russian-language scientific discourse (as evidenced by the lack of translations of his works and the author's reference to English-language sources) has significant heuristic potential. The scientific novelty of the presented article is associated with a detailed analysis of the central idea of Malafouris that understanding the process of cognition requires taking into account not only human thinking abilities, but also a person's connection with the outside world, in which the results of his activity and natural objects act as elements (agents) of his mental activity. The idea that material things are not passive material that a person uses in their activities, but have some "agency", i.e. the ability to influence the environment and a person, is quite new for Russian cognitive science. The structure and content of the work. The presented article has a clear author's structure that facilitates the understanding of the main ideas, emphasizing the key positions of the program of "embodied cognition" by Malafouris. In the introduction, the author introduces the reader to the main problems of scientific creativity of the student of the famous English archaeologist Colin Renfrew Lambros Malafouris, which belongs to the second wave of cognitive-procedural archaeology. The author clarifies that cognitive-procedural archaeology was intended to explain the use of archaeological research to study the development of cognitive processes. In the first part "Criticism of cognitivism and the theory of representation", the author of the article shows the limitations of the classical approach in explaining human cognition by analogy with a calculating machine locked in the human brain. And it offers a deeper understanding of cognition, developed by Malafouris in opposition to limited cognitivism. The author offers an overview of Malafouris's idea of cognition as a process of producing meanings as a result of the dynamic interaction of the embodied brain and forms of material and technical culture. In the next part, "The main postulates of the theory of material involvement," the author examines three key postulates of Malafouris: metaplasticity, material agency and materialenactivating signification. The thesis of metaplasticity is the assertion of the close intertwining of human consciousness with material culture. The author considers the statement that consciousness influences the world around it, acts as a source of culture formation, but also changes itself under the influence of culture. He finds its origins in I. M. Feigenberg's theory of human genetic and cultural coevolution. What is actually the development of Marx's thought that by creating the objective world of culture, a person creates himself as a social being, improves his powers and abilities, expands the scope of his communication, forms new needs and means of satisfying them. Material agency is understood as the interaction of mind and material things, in which the latter acquire causal effectiveness, the ability to determine human activity. The enactivating signification material is defined by Malafouris in the spirit of pragmatism, and the enactive sign is interpreted as a thing prescribing and authorizing some kind of action. Such signs arise as marks that appear and are left during sensorimotor interaction with materials and/or on material surfaces. Thus, according to Lambros Malafouris, the human mind is captured by the surrounding world, and the material environment becomes part of the human mental sphere. In the course of the cultural and historical development of the mind, due to the ability to signify, man himself changes his nature. The style of the article deserves special attention, as it is a good example of a combination of scientific theory and accessibility. The topic of the article is quite complex in itself, given the specifics of the ideas of the Malafouris "embodied cognition" program, the text of the article could become the property of a small group of specialists. However, due to the clarity of the presentation, the author of the article has achieved the clarity of quite complex philosophical ideas. This became possible due to the correct use of scientific vocabulary with an indispensable explanation of all key concepts, illustrations of the main theoretical positions with examples and analogies. The bibliography of the article is extensive and includes both the works of Malafouris himself and the analysis of his works, as well as works dedicated to the study of problems of cognitive archaeology and the theory of the development of the mind. In total, there are 51 bibliographic positions in the article. The appeal to opponents is actively used by the author and includes researchers working in the field of cognitive philosophy and psychology. Conclusions, the interest of the readership. The conclusions presented in the article are quite consistent with the stated problem. The article will be of interest to a wide range of readers interested in philosophy and psychology of cognitive activity.
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