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Distributed Cognition in Victorian Culture and Modernism$
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Miranda Anderson, Peter Garratt, and Mark Sprevak

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781474442244

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474442244.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

The Victorian Extended Mind: George Eliot, Psychology and the Bounds of Cognition

The Victorian Extended Mind: George Eliot, Psychology and the Bounds of Cognition

(p.43) 3 The Victorian Extended Mind: George Eliot, Psychology and the Bounds of Cognition
Distributed Cognition in Victorian Culture and Modernism

Peter Garratt

Edinburgh University Press

The modern identification of the mind with the brain has its roots in the intellectual traditions of the nineteenth century. Isolating the brain as the seat of mental experience, and as the organ of the mind, emerged in the empirical work of Franz Joseph Gall and Johann Spurzheim and became a central, normative assumption of Romantic and Victorian culture, cutting across literary and psychological discourses. Less understood, however, is the extent to which novelists and critics thought seriously about the mind as a distributed phenomenon – or what might be described as Victorian extended cognition. Focusing on George Eliot, and exploring relevant aspects of nineteenth-century psychology, this chapter seeks to recover just that. At issue is the idea that mid-Victorian writing and culture did not always think of the mind as sealed hermetically in the head, a point developed through readings of such texts as The Lifted Veil and Middlemarch which show how Eliot’s fiction intuitively probes some defining claims in 4E cognitive theories.

Keywords:   Brainhood, Enactivism, Extended Mind, Victorian psychology, Presence, Literary realism, Perception

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