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Cognitive History

The following sources are recommended by a professor whose research specialty is cognitive history.


Six Superlative Sources

· Marcia and Robert Ascher. Code of the Quipu: A Study in Media, Mathematics and Culture (Dover, 1997).

· Peter Damerow. Abstraction and Representation: Essays on the Cultural Evolution of Thinking (Kluwer, 1996).

· Jack Goody. The Domestication of the Savage Mind (Cambridge University Press, 1977).

· Reviel Netz. The Shaping of Deduction in Greek Mathematics: A Study in Cognitive History (Cambridge University Press, 1999).

· Denise Schmandt-Besserat. Before Writing (University of Texas Press, 1992).

· Sylvia Scribner and Michael Cole. The Psychology of Literacy (Harvard University Press, 1981).

Other Excellent Sources

· Jack Goody. The Interface between the Written and the Oral (Cambridge University Press, 1987).

· David R. Olson. The World on Paper: The Conceptual and Cognitive Implications of Writing and Reading (Cambridge University Press, 1996).

· Milman Parry. The Making of Homeric Verse: The Collected Papers of Milman Parry (Carendon, 1971).

-- NOTE: Cognitive history is not an academic discipline, with its own departments, journals, etc. Studies in the field were made by, e.g., anthropologists, historians of science, archeologists, classicists, as well as by scholars from other disciplines. The term itself was first used in Netz (1999). The various strands of research that fall under Cognitive History all have in common the following assumption: that while all humans share much in their basic cognitive make-up, different cultures and different historical epochs differ in that they assemble their own cognitive tools and practices out of whatever is given as a cognitive universal. That cultures differ from each other in their highest intellectual achievements is obvious, and therefore research in the field tends to focus on basic cognitive practices, such as literacy or elementary mathematics. To the extent that such practices shape everyday human abilities, cognition is not just a fact of psychology or indeed of biology, but also of history. This, in a nutshell, is the rationale for cognitive history.

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