Was Kekule's Mind Brainbound? The Historiography of Chemistry and the Philosophy of Extended Cognition."

David Theodore


This article examines the revisionist role that current debates and philosophical positions on extended cognition might play for the historian of science, and uses as its case study August Kekulé’s formulation of the benzene molecule’s structure, including the dreams that Kekulé reported as the origin of his model. It builds on the notion of engaging philosophical positions through the historiography of nineteenth-century chemistry, but also examines some of the implications of the history of science for extended cognition. While an extended cognition approach to Kekulé’s use of graphics and visual materials is promising, I argue that there is less usefulness for the idea of collective cognition. Instead I advocate using detailed historical studies to test theories of extended cognition.

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