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John Sutton
Honorary Visiting Professor



John Sutton is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Science at Macquarie University in Sydney, where he worked for nearly 30 years.

He is a philosopher of mind, whose work is anchored in the distributed cognition framework, as applied especially to memory and skill. In studies of collaborative recall and embodied expertise he has tried to integrate conceptual, ethnographic, and experimental methods. He has also published in history of philosophy and in the interdisciplinary cognitive humanities, with recent projects on sport, music, film, dance, literature, and the Māori haka.

Sutton is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities, and was first president of the Australasian Society for Philosophy and Psychology. His most recent co-edited book, with Kath Bicknell, is Collaborative Embodied Performance: ecologies of skill, to be published by Bloomsbury in January 2022.

Further information can be found on his website.


Selected publications


  • John Sutton. Philosophy and Memory Traces: Descartes to connectionism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. xvii + 390. Paperback 2007.

Edited collections

  • (in preparation) Kath Bicknell & John Sutton (Eds.). Collaborative Embodied Performance: ecologies of skill. London: Bloomsbury. (Performance and Science series).
  • (2018). Michelle Meade, Celia B. Harris, Penny van Bergen, John Sutton, and Amanda J. Barnier (Eds.) Collaborative Remembering: theories, research, and applications.

  • (2014). Laurie Johnson, John Sutton, & Evelyn B. Tribble (Eds.), Embodied Cognition and Shakespeare's Theatre: the early modern body-mind. London: Routledge.

  • (2000). Stephen Gaukroger, John Schuster, & John Sutton (Eds.), Descartes' Natural PhilosophyLondon: Routledge.

 Selected journal articles

  • McArthur Henare Mingon and John Sutton. Why robots can’t haka: skilled performance and embodied knowledge in the Māori haka. Synthese (special issue, ‘Minds in Skilled Performance’). Published online 3 January 2021.
  • Richard Heersmink and John Sutton. Cognition and the web: extended, transactive, or scaffolded? Erkenntnis 85 (1), 2020, 139-164.
  • Celia B. Harris, Amanda J. Barnier, John Sutton, and Greg Savage. Features of successful and unsuccessful collaborative memory conversations in long-married couples. Topics in Cognitive Science 11 (4), 2019, 668-686.
  • Wayne Christensen, John Sutton, and Kath Bicknell. Memory systems and the control of skilled action. Philosophical Psychology 32 (5), 2019, 693-719.
  • Karen Pearlman, John MacKay, & John Sutton. Creative editing: Svilova and Vertov’s distributed cognition. Apparatus: film, media, and digital cultures in Central and Eastern Europe, 6, 2018. URL:
  • Wayne Christensen, John Sutton, and Doris J.F. McIlwain. Cognition in skilled action: meshed control and the varieties of skill experience. Mind & Language 31 (1), 2016, 37-66.
  • John Sutton, Doris J.F. McIlwain, Wayne Christensen, and Andrew Geeves. Applying intelligence to the reflexes: embodied skills and habits between Dreyfus and Descartes. JBSP: Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 42 (1), 2011, 78-103.
  • John Sutton. Observer perspective and acentred memory: some puzzles about point of view in personal memory. Philosophical Studies 148 (1), 27-37, 2010.
  • Max Coltheart, Peter Menzies, and John Sutton. Abductive inference and delusional belief. Cognitive Neuropsychiatry 15 (1), 261-287, 2010.
  • John Sutton, Celia B. Harris, Paul G. Keil, & Amanda J. Barnier. The psychology of memory, extended cognition, and socially distributed remembering. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 9 (4), 2010, 521-560.
  • Celia B. Harris, Paul G. Keil, John Sutton, Amanda J. Barnier, and Doris J.F. McIlwain. ‘We remember, we forget’: collaborative remembering in older couples. Discourse Processes 48 (4), 2011, 267-303.
  • John Sutton. Batting, habit, and memory: the embodied mind and the nature of skill. Sport in Society 10 (5), 2007, 763-786.
  • John Sutton. Distributed cognition: domains and dimensions. Pragmatics and Cognition, 14 (2), 2006, 235-247.

Selected book chapters

  • John Sutton and Kath Bicknell. Embodied experience in the cognitive ecologies of skilled performance. In Ellen Fridland and Carlotta Pavese (eds), The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Skill and Expertise (pp. 194-205). London: Routledge, 2020.
  • John Sutton. Movements, memory, and mixture: Aristotle, confusion, and the historicity of memory. In Jakob Leth Fink and Seyed Mousavian (eds), The Internal Senses in the Aristotelian Tradition (pp. 137-155). Berlin: Springer, 2020.
  • John Sutton. Personal memory, the scaffolded mind, and cognitive change in the Neolithic. In Ian Hodder (ed), Consciousness, Creativity and Self at the Dawn of Settled Life (pp. 209-229). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020.
  • John Sutton and Evelyn B. Tribble. The creation of space: narrative strategies, group agency, and skill in Lloyd Jones’s The Book of Fame. In Chris Danta and Helen Groth (Eds.), Mindful Aesthetics: literature and the sciences of mind (pp. 141-160). Bloomsbury/ Continuum, 2014.
  • John Sutton and Kellie Williamson. Embodied remembering. In Lawrence Shapiro (Ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Embodied Cognition (pp. 315-325). London: Routledge, 2014.
  • John Sutton. Exograms and interdisciplinarity: history, the extended mind, and the civilizing process. In Richard Menary (Ed.), The Extended Mind (pp. 189-225). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2010.
  • John Sutton. Carelessness and inattention: mind-wandering and the physiology of fantasy from Locke to Hume. In Charles T. Wolfe & Ofer Gal (Eds.), The Body as Object and Instrument of Knowledge: embodied empiricism in early modern science (pp. 243-263). Berlin: Springer, 2019.
  • John Sutton. Remembering. In Murat Aydede & Phillip Robbins (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition (pp. 217-235) .Cambridge: Cambridge U.P, 2009
  • John Sutton. Dreaming. In Paco Calvo and John Symons (Eds.), The Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Psychology (pp. 522-542). London: Routledge, 2009.
  • John Sutton. ‘The feel of the world’: exograms, habits, and the confusion of types of memory. In Andrew Kania (Ed.), Memento: philosophers on film (pp.65-86). London: Routledge, 2009
  • John Sutton. Material agency, skills, and history: distributed cognition and the archaeology of  memory. In Carl Knappett & Lambros Malafouris (Eds.), Material Agency: towards a non-anthropocentric approach.(pp. 37-55). Berlin: Springer, 2008
  • John Sutton. The body and the brain. In S. Gaukroger, J. Schuster, & J. Sutton (Eds.), Descartes' Natural Philosophy (pp. 697-722). London: Routledge, 2000.

Selected refereed conference papers

  • John Sutton. Remembering as public practice: Wittgenstein, memory, and distributed cognitive ecologies. In D. Moyal-Sharrock, A. Coliva, & V. Munz (Eds.), Mind, Language, and Action: Proceedings of the 36th International Wittgenstein Symposium (pp. 409-443). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2015.


Contact details

Professor John Sutton
Honorary Visiting Professor
Department of Philosophy
University of York
YO10 5DD