Seminar Series in Analytic Philosophy 2021-22, Session 22

The cognitive life of maps
Roberto Casati (Institut Jean Nicod)

01 April 2022, 16:00 (Lisbon Time – GMT+1) | Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)


Abstract: The cognitive life of maps is distinct from the life of cognitive maps. But then, there are two senses of ‘the cognitive life of maps’; in the wake of theories of extended cognition, one may claim that maps have a cognitive life of their own. Here we follow a different path, the study of the cognitive engagement with maps. In a sense, maps are temporarily alive for those who design, draw and use them. How can they? What kind of life is it?
I first introduce the main claims about what maps are and how they work – their specific syntax, their peculiar semantics, and their pragmatics. Then I delve into the mechanics of maps as they are used for navigation, the differences and similarities between maps and pictures, and between maps and models. Then, I test the skeletal theory of maps on an enlargement: can we find maplike structures in other cognitive artifacts, and how are these structures specifically maplike? I’ll make the case that clock faces, music notation, writing, organizers (such as calendars), and numeral series are or contain essentially map structures. This enlargement strategy makes a case for the centrality of maps. Missing an understanding of maps, we cannot understand how a number of other crucial cognitive artifacts work.


The room has a limited number of seats. Pre-registration is required at <> until a day before the event. Note that this is an in-person event and everyone should wear a mask.