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Distributed Processes, Distributed Cognizers and Collaborative Cognition

John Benjamins
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  • Cognitive Psychology


Cognition is thinking; it feels like something to think, and only those who can feel can think. There are also things that thinkers can do. We know neither how thinkers can think nor how they are able do what they can do. We are waiting for cognitive science to discover how. Cognitive science does this by testing hypotheses about what processes can generate what doing (“know-how”) This is called the Turing Test. It cannot test whether a process can generate feeling, hence thinking -- only whether it can generate doing. The processes that generate thinking and know-how are “distributed” within the heads of thinkers, but not across thinkers’ heads. Hence there is no such thing as distributed cognition, only collaborative cognition. Email and the Web have spawned a new form of collaborative cognition that draws upon individual brains’ real-time interactive potential in ways that were not possible in oral, written or print interactions.

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