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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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Nietzsche’s Genealogie der Moral Pro and Contra Distributed Cognition

Nietzsche’s Genealogie der Moral Pro and Contra Distributed Cognition

(p.209) 12 Nietzsche’s Genealogie der Moral Pro and Contra Distributed Cognition
Distributed Cognition in Victorian Culture and Modernism

E. T. Troscianko

Edinburgh University Press

Nietzsche’s writing and thought about the mind challenge some of the same Cartesian dichotomies that the more recent frameworks of 4E and distributed cognition do. Zur Genealogie der Moral (On the Genealogy of Morals), a highpoint in Nietzsche’s project of the ‘Umwertung aller Werte’ (revaluation of all values), is a proclamation of perspectivism: there is no objective perception and nothing objectively to be perceived, only perspectives on objects. This thesis is expressed through evocations of space and movement that, the chapter argues, promote and depend on readerly cognition in which embodied and enactive imagining is central. In these same passages, however, the equivocations underlying the whole perspectivist enterprise are exposed: the supposed discovery of a new extra-textual moral reality through philosophical agility is undermined by rhetorical structures that turn out to merely simulate movement, and so ask readers’ imaginations not to be too enactive. This equivocation has important consequences for readers’ engagement with the interplay of rhetorical form and conceptual content. Cognitive analysis thus gets us to the heart of a grand paradox of Nietzschean philosophy – absolute assertion of the relativity of language – while also shedding light on current questions about action-based distributed cognition as an intellectual force.

Keywords:   Cognitive-linguistic categorisation, Cognitive realism, Distributed cognition, Enactivism, Friedrich Nietzsche, Mental imagery, Metaphor, Narrative perspective, Perspectivism

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