The extended mind

Zygon 44 (3):628-641 (2009)
Abstract
According to the view known variously as the extended mind (Clark & Chalmers 1998), vehicle externalism (Hurley 1998; Rowlands 2003, 2006) active externalism (Clark and Chalmers 1998), locational externalism (Wilson 2004) and environmentalism (Rowlands 1999), at least some token mental processes extend into the cognizing organism’s environment in that they are composed, partly (and, on most versions, contingently), of manipulative, exploitative, and transformative operations performed by that subject on suitable environmental structures. More precisely, what I shall refer to as the thesis of the extended mind (EM) is constituted by the following claims: • The world is an external store of information relevant to processes such as perceiving, remembering, reasoning … (and possibly) experiencing. • At least some mental processes are hybrid – they straddle both internal and external operations. • The external operations take the form of action: manipulation, exploitation and transformation of environmental structures – ones that carry information relevant to the accomplishing of a given task. • At least some of the internal processes are ones concerned with supplying a subject with the ability to appropriately use relevant structures in its environment. As I shall understand it, therefore, the thesis of the extended mind is (1) an ontic thesis, of (2) partial and (3) contingent (4) composition of (5) some mental processes.[1] 1. It is ontic in the sense that it is a thesis about what (some) mental processes are, as opposed to an epistemic thesis about the best way of understanding mental processes. This ontic claim, of course, has an epistemic consequence: it is not possible to understand the nature of at least some of the mental processes without understanding the extent to which that organism is capable of manipulating, exploiting and transforming relevant structures in its environment (Rowlands 1999)..
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Shaun Gallagher (2012). Taking Stock of Phenomenology Futures. Southern Journal of Philosophy 50 (2):304-318.
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