Social & Political Sciences

Social & Political Sciences Experts

Professor John Sutton

Visiting Professor
Kings College London
United Kingdom


John Sutton is Professor of Cognitive Science at Macquarie University (Sydney), where I was previously Head of the Department of Philosophy. He has degrees in Classics (Oxford) and Philosophy (Sydney), and has held visiting fellowships at Edinburgh, UCLA, UCSD, and Warwick. His research is insistently interdisciplinary, aiming to integrate cognitive sciences, social sciences, and humanities. This takes time and energy, and the luck to find wonderful, tolerant collaborators. Much of his work is on memory. He addressed the history of theories of memory, especially Descartes and early modern neurophilosophy, experimenting in historical cognitive science. Bringing cognition and culture together, he develops ideas of philosopher Andy Clark and anthropologist Ed Hutchins on distributed cognition: remembering and other psychological processes can spread across brain, body, and world (both social and material): he argues for a '2nd-wave' account based on the complementarity of internal and external resources. In fruitful collaborations over 10 years, with cognitive psychologists Amanda Barnier and Celia Harris, they study shared remembering and collective cognition in small groups; and with personality psychologist Doris McIlwain and team, they study expert movement and embodied skills, bringing our ‘applying intelligence to the reflexes’ framework to studies in sport (especially cricket), yoga, dance, and music.

Research Interest

Memory, especially autobiographical memory; Skilled movement and embodied expertise; Collaborative recall and collective intentionality; Distributed cognition and extended mind; Cognitive history.

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