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Living Subjectivity: Time Scales, Language, and the Fluidity of the Self

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The concepts of subjectivity and the self permeate the foundations of the philosophy of distributed cognition (DCog). Proponents of DCog argue that cognition extends beyond the confines of the brain and moves into the immediate bio-social environment. Here, as well as in the special issue in general, we extend this argument by looking at multi-scalar temporalities that influence the emergence and potential of the self. In particular, we argue that the self is best understood as a relational entity that immerses contextually in a distributed, non-stable, and temporally multi-scalar manner. This conceptualization of the self points to interesting conclusions concerning the operationalization of reasoning, the foundations of communication, and cognition in general. Together, this bring home at least two major philosophical implications of viewing language and thinking as temporally multi-scalar. First, contextually immersed subjectivity is compatible with tracing language and cognition to how cultural resources extend human embodiment (this frames the potential for cognition, subjectivity, and the self). Second, while distributed and fragmented, the construction of temporal experience can become an organizing principle for the construction of the self. Through this lens, cognition binds what is learned from introspection with contextual immersion that uses skills in temporal integration. This challenges views of self and cognition as stable internal phenomena and, conversely, shows that philosophy and psychology have much to gain from examining how living human beings achieve temporal unity.
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Keywords: distributed cognition; distributed language; multi-scalar temporalities; systemic cognition; the self; ubjectivity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Birkbeck, University of London, Department of Psychology, Malet Street, Bloomsbury- London WC1E 7HX. ., Email: [email protected] 2: Birkbeck, University of London, Department of Psychology, Malet Street, Bloomsbury- London WC1E 7HX. ., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 01 January 2014

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