XII Nordic TAG

The next NTAG (Nordic Theoretical Archaeology Group) meeting will be held in Oulu on April 25.-28. this year. I just heard that my paper proposal has been accepted. Here is the abstract of my paper. It will be presented at the session organized by Bjørnar Olsen. You can find out more about the next NTAG on their website.

After the poststructuralist ‘textual detour’ (pace Olsen), many archaeologists have returned to studying the things themselves. There are, however, many profound philosophical presuppositions to consider when one examines the relationship between people and things. What is the nature of the relationship between perception and reality? Are things necessarily transcendental and unreachable in the Kantian sense? Assuming a hidden realm of things-in-themselves leads to an unresolvable problem about the object of our knowledge.

In this paper, I will present a pragmatistic approach to the relationship between mind and matter. Criticizing the traditional rationalist and empiricist approaches still very influential in archaeology, I will propose an alternative that is not based on a strict division between a knowing subject and a static object of knowledge. Instead, I propose that it is impossible to separate mind and matter or perception and reality.

Time plays an important role in understanding the relationship between thought and action. Being in the world and being able to act in the world is therefore interplay between particular material actualities produced in the past and the present, and general mentally construed possibilities strongly rooted in the future. The evolutionary mind has an ability to anticipate and adjust action based on its imagined consequences.

Even though I didn’t mention it in the abstract, my approach is of course highly motivated by Charles Peirce and his pragmatic understanding of meaning.


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