My papers , (+ categorized papers page),
my talks
, & my research
Interdisciplinary Study
of Memory
and of Dreams
*Perspective Workshop, 9-11 May 2013*
Philosophy and Memory Traces
(now with extra access!
My graduate students
Site Index 

This page at has been my website since March 2012, replacing, which I ran since early 2000.
Some internal links may still not be operative - sorry! Please email me if you have any questions or suggestions. 
Sorry about all the green :)

I work in the Department of Cognitive Science (formerly MACCS, the Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science), at Macquarie University, Sydney, after some years in the Philosophy Department
    The Department is lead host to CCD, the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders.

Tel: (61 2) 9850 4132. The easiest way to get in touch is to email me. (I'm not the LSE economist John Sutton; nor the philosopher Jonathan Sutton of Auburn Uni; nor the South Sydney Rabbitohs playmaker John Sutton.)
I'm also a member of CAVE (Centre for Agency, Values, and Ethics) and  CEPET (Centre for Elite Performance, Expertise, and Training).

My research covers memory, skill, and distributed cognition, seeking to integrate philosophical, psychological, and historical ideas and methods, across five broad areas listed below. A good sample of my
    writing covering many of these themes is
'The Feel of the World: exograms, habits, and the confusion of types of memory', in Andrew Kania (ed), Memento: philosophers on film (Routledge, 2009), 65-86.
    Or for an intro to memory theory,
see my entry 'Memory', in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
For a full list of my writings, most with access, go to
my publications page (also see categorized papers page). Or you can also visit my Google Scholar page or my page at

1. The framing theoretical background for my work is distributed cognition in the traditions of anthropologist Edwin Hutchins
and philosopher Andy Clark. The central idea is that remembering and
    other cognitive processes are sometimes distributed across brain, body, and world (both social and material). I defend a '2nd-wave' account based on the complementarity of internal and external resources.
    For a taster listen to
The Extended Mind on ABC Radio's The Philosopher's Zone, with Richard Menary & me (podcast mp3 here), and the 2012 update with Rob Rupert.
    For some of my work on this try 
'Exograms and Interdisciplinarity: history, the extended mind, and the civilizing process', in Richard Menary (ed), The Extended Mind  (MIT Press, 2010), pp.189-225.
    Among other general issues in philosophy of cognitive science, I'm still hooked on dreams: 'Dreaming', in P. Calvo and J. Symons (eds), Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Psychology (2009), 522-542.

2. I study links between autobiographical and social memory, and collaborative cognition more generally, with Amanda Barnier, Celia Harris and our team. We build on and adapt empirical research traditions
    in cognitive psychology studying collaborative recall and transactive memory systems, to study what happens when people who know each other well (long-term couples, friends, colleagues, team-mates)
    remember their shared past together. For a taster listen to
Remembering Together on ABC Radio's All in the Mind (direct link to podcast). For some of our work with long-term couples see Harris, Keil, Sutton,
Barnier, & McIlwain, 'We Remember, We Forget: collaborative remembering in older couples', Discourse Processes 48 (4), 2011, 267-303. For links between this empirical research and the philosophical work on
   distributed cognition, see
Sutton, Harris, Keil, & Barnier, 'The Psychology of Memory, Extended Cognition, and Socially Distributed Remembering', Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 9 (4), 2010 521-560.
    For more detail and references see our (needing-updated) page on
'From autobiographical memory to collective memory: an interdisciplinary study of individual and group cognition'.
    I also work in interdisciplinary memory studies more broadly. I coedit Memory Studies, issue 6 number 3 now out, and a book series Palgrave Memory Studies.

3. 'Point of View in Personal Memory: a philosophical study of perspective in remembering and imagining'. Remembering the personal past is a key part of mental life: but why do we sometimes remember past events
    from an external or 'observer' perspective, seeing ourselves in the remembered scene? How do visuospatial perspectives relate to emotional and narrative perspectives?
*Perspective Workshop, 9-11 May 2013*.

'Mindful Bodies in Action, or Applying intelligence to the reflexes: embodied skill and kinesthetic memory,' with Doris McIlwain and our team. Skilled experts in sport or dance perform extraordinary actions in
    perfect time, with exquisite control, and display resilient coping under pressure: their mindful bodies blend cognition and emotion in action. This project in philosophy of psychology seeks to integrate disconnected
    research on skilled movement in a new account of embodied intelligence. For a taster listen to
'The Philosophy of Cricket' on ABC Radio's The Philosopher's Zone.
    For some of my work on this try 'Batting, Habit, and Memory: the embodied mind and the nature of skill', Sport in Society 10 (5), 2007.
We are also working with the ACA (Australian Cricketers' Association) and Cricket Australia in a project studying emotional resilience in professional cricketers.

'Distributed cognition and ecologies of skill in early modern England', history work with Lyn Tribble from English at Otago, and in a new 5-year project Early Modern Conversions: religions, cultures, cognitive ecologies
    with Paul Yachnin (McGill) and a wonderful international and interdisciplinary team.
    I used to work in more mainstream history of philosophy, science, and ideas.
My book Philosophy and Memory Traces: Descartes to connectionism (1998), permeated by the old fleeting animal spirits, is out in paperback:
here for more details and access; essays on Descartes' Natural Philosophy which I edited with Stephen Gaukroger and John Schuster was published in 2000. Now with Lyn Tribble I try to study the history of
    cognitive practices and activities as well as the history of ideas about the mind. For the cognitive theory behind this work see
Tribble & Sutton, 'Cognitive Ecology as a Framework for Shakespearean Studies',
    Shakespeare Studies 39
(2011), 94-103; for a more literary treatment see
Tribble & Sutton, 'Minds in and out of time: memory, embodied skill, anachronism, and performance', Textual Practice 26 (4), 2012, 587-607.

I am always interested in hearing from potential PhD or Masters students wanting to work on any of these topics. At present I am primary supervisor for 5 PhD students in Cognitive Science, and active associate supervisor
    for 3 PhD students in Cognitive Science, and for PhD students in Philosophy (2),
Psychology (2), & Ancient History, most working roughly on topics relating to memory or movement. I've been primary supervisor for
    10 completed PhDs
& 6 completed research Masters. Here's info on all my current and past graduate students and details of the topics I've supervised. I also supervise Honours theses in both Philosophy and Psychology.

is * ASCS09: Proceedings of the 9th Conference of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science**
Some favourite blogs: Greg & team on Neuroanthropology (now on PLoS blogs, and better than ever!!); Rob & What Sorts of People Should There Be?; Art Politics Philosophy Science at New Apps Blog;
    Ken at the Bounds of Cognition; the Cognition & Culture Institute at the IJN; Mark Rowlands; Lucas Bietti's Collective Memory Project; Eric at The Splintered Mind; also Mnemosynosis;
    Philosophy of Brains; Philosophy of Sport; Mixing Memory; & Neurophilosophy; Samir at; Lisa and team at the Epistemic Innocence Project

I'm on the editorial board of Palgrave's New Directions in Philosophy and Cognitive Science, and the journals Philosophical Psychology; Neuroethics; Scan: journal of media arts culture; Fibreculture Journal.
Ghost in the Machine, a show about minds, bodies, machines, and memory, was on Eastside Radio 89.7FM in Sydney, until our last show on Thursday 27 January 2005.
    Instead  listen to 
All in the Mind and The Philosopher's Zone on ABC Radio National.
Here is the mighty Macquarie University Cricket Club. Also check out Samir Chopra's regular blog for Cricinfo, The Pitch.

John Sutton
MACCS (Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science), (room C5C 423)
Macquarie University                

NSW 2109                                    Tel. (61) 2 9850 4132
Australia                                      Or just email me.

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Last updated 28 November 2013.