Writing and the Mind
  • ISSN 0929-0907
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9943
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The claim that the invention of literacy has cognitive consequences, so-called Literacy Theory, is subject to the criticism that it implies a form of technological determinism. This criticism, however, assumes an outdated Cartesian model of mind, a mind independent of the body and the external world. Such an internalistic framework leaves unexplored the cognitive consequences of the material dimension of writing. Therefore, in order to dismiss the accusations of technological determinism, the Cartesian model of mind and cognition needs to be reconsidered. The paper demonstrates how the framework of situated cognition helps to account for the cognitive consequences of written artifacts themselves. Material characteristics of written vehicles such as spatial and temporal stability of the content, fixity of information with reference to page boundaries, lightness and small size of paper sheets, and spatial layout of documents make up the most relevant material factors enabling the distribution of cognitive work.


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