Social Reality Without Language
Enacted Representations, Not Declarations, Create Status Functions
Keywords:Social Ontology, Language, Distributed Cognition, Cultural Practices
According to a popular view, the creation of social reality requires language: social institutions emerge when we successfully declare them into existence. Making language central to institutions deprives the non-human of any claim to a social reality. This is particularly problematic in the light of mounting research showing many animals have social institutions even in the absence of language. In this paper, I will offer an alternative view. I will employ a concept –enacted representation– from the distributed cognition framework of cognitive science to develop a social ontology that does not take language as a requirement to create social institutions.
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