According to the ExtendedMind thesis, the mind extends beyond the skull or the skin: mental processes can constitutively include external devices, like a computer or a notebook. The ExtendedMind thesis has drawn both support and criticism. However, most discussions—including those by its original defenders, Andy Clark and David Chalmers—fail to distinguish between two very different interpretations of this thesis. The first version claims that the physical basis of mental features can be located spatially (...) outside the body. Once we accept that the mind depends on physical events to some extent, this thesis, though not obvious, is compatible with a large variety of views on the mind. The second version applies to standing states only, and has to do with how we conceive the nature of such states. This second version is much more interesting, because it points to a potential tension in our conception of minds or selves. However, without properly distinguishing between the two theses, the significance of the second is obscured by the comparative triviality of the first. (shrink)
For more than one decade, Andy Clark has defended the now-famous extendedmind thesis, the idea that cognitive processes leak into the world. In this paper I analyse Clark’s theoretical justification for the thesis: explanatory simplicity. I argue that his way of justifying the thesis leads into contradiction, either at the level of propositional attitude ascriptions or at the theoretical level. I evaluate three possible strategies of dealing with this issue, concluding that they are all likely to fail (...) and that therefore, as regards explanatory simplicity, the burden of proof is on Clark’s side. The paper divides into two main sections: in “Simplicity and Coherence”, I define the two concepts that are important in this context (simplicity and explanatory coherence). In “How to Cope with Coherence”, these two concepts are applied to the central thought experiment, the Inga/Otto case. It will be shown that justifying the extendedmind thesis by reference to simplicity may cause trouble, because ‘extended’ behavioural descriptions are likely to yield rather complicated explanations. (shrink)
This paper will defend the claim that, under certain circumstances, the material vehicles responsible for an agent’s conscious experience can be partly constituted by processes outside the agent’s body. In other words, the consciousness of the agent can extend. This claim will be supported by the ExtendedMind Thesis (EMT) example of the artist and their sketchpad (Clark 2001, 2003). It will be argued that if this example is one of EMT, then this example also supports an argument (...) for consciousness extension. Clark (2009) rejects claims of consciousness extension. This paper will challenge Clark and argue that he fails to show that the material vehicles responsible for consciousness must be internal to the agent. (shrink)
My goal in this paper is to generalize Kirsh and Maglio’s (1994) distinction between pragmatic and epistemic actions from the level of individuals to the level of groups. I use the concept of a collective epistemic action to refer to the ways in which groups of people actively change the structure of their social organization, with the epistemic goal of reshaping and augmenting their cognitive performance as integrated collectivities. By placing a renewed emphasis on the interactions between people, rather than (...) between people and their tools I hope to reconnect the cognitive-scientifically-driven “extendedmind” thesis (Clark and Chalmers 1998; Clark 2008) with complementary areas of social-scientific research in which groups are analyzed as the seats of action and cognition in their own right. In particular, the literature to which I aim to build a bridge in this paper are certain segments of social and organizational psychology on the one hand (Larsen and Christensen 1993; Hinsz et al. 1997, Mohammed and Dumville 2001), and theories of collective and institutional action on the other hand (Ostrom 1990, List and Pettit 2011). (shrink)
For Descartes, minds were essentially non-extended things. Contemporary cognitive science prides itself on having exorcised the Cartesian ghost from the biological machine. However, it remains committed to the Cartesian vision of the mental as something purely inner. Against the idea that the mind resides solely in the brain, advocates of the situated and embodied nature of cognition have long stressed the importance of dynamic brain-body-environment couplings, the opportunistic exploitation of bodily morphology, the strategic performance of epistemically potent actions, (...) the generation and use of external representations, and the cognitive scaffolding provided by artifacts and social-cultural practices. According to the “extendedmind” thesis, a significant portion of human cognition literally extends beyond the brain into the body and its environment. My goal in this book is to clarify the nature and scope of this thesis, and to defend its central insight that cognition is not confined to the boundaries of the biological individual. (shrink)
Andy Clark once remarked that we make the world smart so we don’t have to be (Clark, 1997). What he meant was that human beings (along with many other animals) alter and transform their environments in order to accomplish certain tasks that would prove difficult (or indeed impossible) without such transformations. This remarkable insight goes a long way towards explaining many aspects of human culture, ranging from linguistic notational systems to how we structure our cities. It also provides the basis (...) for Mark Rowlands’ thought-provoking and insightful book, The New Science of the Mind. (shrink)
Does cognition sometimes literally extend into the extra-organismic environment (Clark, 2003), or is it always “merely” environmentally embedded (Rupert, 2004)? Underlying this current border dispute is the question about how to individuate cognitive processes on principled grounds. Based on recent evidence about the active role of representation selection and construction in learning how to reason (Stenning, 2002), I raise the question: what makes two distinct, modality-specific pen-and-paper manipulations of external representations – diagrams versus sentences – cognitive processes of the same (...) kind, e.g. episodes of syllogistic reasoning? In response, I defend a “division of labor” hypothesis, according to which external representations are dependent on perceptually grounded neural representations and mechanisms to guide our behavior; these internal mechanisms, however, are dependent on external representations to have their syllogistic content fixed. Only their joint contributions qualify the extended computational process as an episode of syllogistic reasoning in good standing. (shrink)
Extended Cognition (EC) hypothesizes that there are parts of the world outside the head serving as cognitive vehicles. One criticism of this controversial view is the problem of “cognitive bloat” which says that EC is too permissive and fails to provide an adequate necessary criterion for cognition. It cannot, for instance, distinguish genuine cognitive vehicles from mere supports (e.g. the Yellow Pages). In response, Andy Clark and Mark Rowlands have independently suggested that genuine cognitive vehicles are distinguished from supports (...) in that the former have been “recruited,” i.e. they are either artifacts, or, products of evolution. I argue against this proposal. There are counter examples to the claim that “Teleological” EC is either necessary or sufficient for cognition. Teleological EC conflates different types of scientific projects, and inherits content externalism’s alienation from historically impartial cognitive science. (shrink)
I critically assess two widely cited evolutionary biological arguments for two versions of the ‘ExtendedMind Thesis’ (EMT): namely, an argument appealing to Dawkins’s ‘Extended Phenotype Thesis’ (EPT) and an argument appealing to ‘Developmental Systems Theory’ (DST). Specifically, I argue that, firstly, appealing to the EPT is not useful for supporting the EMT (in either version), as it is structured and motivated too differently from the latter to be able to corroborate or elucidate it. Secondly, I extend (...) and defend Rupert’s argument that DST also fails to support or elucidate the EMT (in either version) by showing that the considerations in favour of the former theory have no bearing on the truth of the latter. I conclude by noting that the relevance of this discussion goes beyond the debate surrounding the EMT, as it brings out some of the difficulties of introducing evolutionary biological considerations into debates in psychology and philosophy more generally. (shrink)
In my dissertation, I explore the remarkable talent of human beings to modify and co-opt resources of their material and socio-cultural environment, and integrate them with their biological capacities in order to enhance their cognitive prowess. In the first part, I clarify and defend the claim – known as the extendedmind thesis – that a significant portion of human cognition literally extends beyond the head into the world, actively incorporating our bodies and an intricate web of material (...) resources (Clark, 2003, 2008; Wilson, 2004). Yet since much of distinctively human cognition occurs when we think in groups, I argue that the bias of this thesis to view cognition as an essentially solitary (albeit bodily or technologically extended) activity is misplaced. In the second part, I re-deploy the idea of cognitive extensions to establish a scientifically respectable version of the group mind thesis – i.e., the claim that groups can have emergent cognitive properties and capacities in their own right. (shrink)
There is no Argument that the Mind Extends On the basis of two argumentative examples plus their 'parity principle', Clark and Chalmers argue that mental states like beliefs can extend into the environment. I raise two problems for the argument. The first problem is that it is more difficult than Clark and Chalmers think to set up the Tetris example so that application of the parity principle might render it a case of extendedmind. The second problem (...) is that, even when appropriate versions of the argumentative examples can be constructed, the availability of a second, internalist parity principle precludes the possibility of inferring that the mind extends. Choosing which parity principle we ought to wield would involve deciding beforehand whether or not the mind can extend. Thus Clark and Chalmers beg the question by employing their parity principle rather than the internalist one. I conclude that they fail to provide a proper argument to support the extendedmind thesis. (shrink)
Is the brain the biological substrate of consciousness? Most naturalistic philosophers of mind have supposed that the answer must obviously be «yes » to this question. However, a growing number of philosophers working in 4e (embodied, embedded, extended, enactive) cognitive science have begun to challenge this assumption, arguing instead that consciousness supervenes on the whole embodied animal in dynamic interaction with the environment. We call views that share this claim dynamic sensorimotor theories of consciousness (DSM). Clark (2009) a (...) founder and leading proponent of the hypothesis of the extendedmind, demurs, arguing that as matter of fact the biology of consciousness doesn’t allow for a brain, body and world boundary crossing architecture. We begin by looking at one of the arguments for DSM, the variable neural correlates argument. We then outline two criticisms that Clark has made of this argument and endorse his criticisms. However we finish up by using the case of sensory substitution to argue that something of this argument for DSM nevertheless survives. We suggest that Clark ought to concede sensory substitution as a case in which the conscious mind extends. (shrink)
We offer an argument for the extendedmind based on considerations from brain development. We argue that our brains develop to function in partnership with cognitive resources located in our external environments. Through our cultural upbringing we are trained to use artefacts in problem solving that become factored into the cognitive routines our brains support. Our brains literally grow to work in close partnership with resources we regularly and reliably interact with. We take this argument to be in (...) line with complementarity or “second-wave” defences of the extendedmind that stress the functional differences between biological elements and external, environmental resources in putative cases of extended cognition. Complementarity defences argue that many of the kinds of cognition humans excel at can only be accomplished by brains working together with a body that directly manipulates and acts on the world [Rowlands (1999); Menary (2007); Sutton (2010)]. We argue that complementarity and functionalist defences of the extendedmind aren’t opposed, but that complementarity considerations can provide much needed and hitherto under exploited leverage in defending EMT. Moreover, the developmental work we will describe adds extra weight to the complementarity case for EMT. (shrink)
The extendedmind hypothesis (EMH) is the claim that the mind can and does extend beyond the human body. Adams and Aizawa (A&A) contend that arguments for EMH commit a ‘coupling constitution fallacy’. We deny that the master argument for EMH commits such a fallacy. But we think that there is an important question lurking behind A&A's allegation: under what conditions is cognition spread across a tightly coupled system? Building on some suggestions from Haugeland, we contend that (...) the system must exhibit a distinctive sort of semantic activity, semantic activity that the system as a whole takes responsibility for. (shrink)
In the movie, Memento, the hero, Leonard, suffers from a form of anterograde amnesia that results in an inability to lay down new memories. Nonetheless, he sets out on a quest to find his wife’s killer, aided by the use of notes, annotated polaroids, and (for the most important pieces of information obtained) body tattoos. Using these resources he attempts to build up a stock of new beliefs and to thus piece together the puzzle of his wife’s death. At one (...) point in the movie, a character exasperated by Leonard’s lack of biological recall, shouts. (shrink)
The extended-mind thesis (EM) is the claim that mentality need not be situated just in the brain, or even within the boundaries of the skin. Some versions take "extended selves" be to relatively transitory couplings of biological organisms and external resources. First, I show how EM can be seen as an extension of traditional views of mind. Then, after voicing a couple of qualms about EM, I reject EM in favor of a more modest hypothesis that (...) recognizes enduring subjects of experience and agents with integrated bodies. Nonetheless, my modest hypothesis allows subpersonal states to have nonbiological parts that play essential roles in cognitive processing. I present empirical warrant for this modest hypothesis and show how it leaves room for science and religion to coexist. (shrink)
According to the view known variously as the extendedmind (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 extendedmind (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 extendedmind is (1) an ontic thesis, of (2) partial and (3) contingent (4) composition of (5) some mental processes. 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).. (shrink)
We argue that the letter of the ExtendedMind hypothesis can be accommodated by a strongly internalist, broadly Cartesian conception of mind. The argument turns centrally on an unusual but (we argue) highly plausible view on the mark of the mental.
According to the view that has become known as the extendedmind , some token mental processes extend into the cognizing organism’s environment in that they are composed (partly) of manipulative, exploitative, and transformative operations performed by that subject on suitable environmental structures. Enactivist models understand mental processes as (partly) constituted by sensorimotor knowledge and by the organism’s ability to act, in appropriate ways, on environmental structures. Given the obvious similarities between the two views, it is both tempting (...) and common to regard them as essentially variations on the same theme. In this paper, I shall argue that the similarities between enactivist and extended models of cognition are relatively superficial, and the divergences are deeper than commonly thought. (shrink)
This paper explores some of the differences between the enactive approach in cognitive science and the extendedmind thesis. We review the key enactive concepts of autonomy and sense-making . We then focus on the following issues: (1) the debate between internalism and externalism about cognitive processes; (2) the relation between cognition and emotion; (3) the status of the body; and (4) the difference between ‘incorporation’ and mere ‘extension’ in the body-mind-environment relation.
The extendedmind thesis is the claim that mental states extend beyond the skulls of the agents whose states they are. This seemingly obscure and bizarre claim has far-reaching implications for neuroethics, I argue. In the first half of this article, I sketch the extendedmind thesis and defend it against criticisms. In the second half, I turn to its neuroethical implications. I argue that the extendedmind thesis entails the falsity of the claim (...) that interventions into the brain are especially problematic just because they are internal interventions, but that many objections to such interventions rely, at least in part, on this claim. Further, I argue that the thesis alters the focus of neuroethics, away from the question of whether we ought to allow interventions into the mind, and toward the question of which interventions we ought to allow and under what conditions. The extendedmind thesis dramatically expands the scope of neuroethics: because interventions into the environment of agents can count as interventions into their minds, decisions concerning such interventions become questions for neuroethics. (shrink)
The extendedmind hypothesis (Clark and Chalmers in Analysis 58(1):7–19, 1998; Clark 2008) is an influential hypothesis in philosophy of mind and cognitive science. I argue that the extendedmind hypothesis is born to be wild. It has undeniable and irrepressible tendencies of flouting grounding assumptions of the traditional information-processing paradigm. I present case-studies from social cognition which not only support the extendedmind proposal but also bring out its inherent wildness. In particular, (...) I focus on cases of action-understanding and discuss the role of embodied intentionality in the extendedmind project. I discuss two theories of action-understanding for exploring the support for the extendedmind hypothesis in embodied intersubjective interaction, namely, simulation theory and a non-simulationist perceptual account. I argue that, if the extendedmind adopts a simulation theory of action-understanding, it rejects representationalism. If it adopts a non-simulationist perceptual account of action-understanding, it rejects the classical sandwich view of the mind. (shrink)
A new position in the philosophy of mind has recently appeared: the extendedmind hypothesis (EMH). Some of its proponents think the EMH, which says that a subject's mental states can extend into the local environment, shows that internalism is false. I argue that this is wrong. The EMH does not refute internalism; in fact, it necessarily does not do so. The popular assumption that the EMH spells trouble for internalists is premised on a bad characterization of (...) the internalist thesis—albeit one that most internalists have adhered to. I show that internalism is entirely compatible with the EMH. This view should prompt us to reconsider the characterization of internalism, and in conclusion I make some brief remarks about how that project might proceed. (shrink)
I draw upon the conceptual resources of the extendedmind thesis (EM) to analyze <span class='Hi'>empathy</span> and interpersonal understanding. Against the dominant mentalistic paradigm, I argue that <span class='Hi'>empathy</span> is fundamentally an extended bodily activity and that much of our social understanding happens outside of the head. First, I look at how the two dominant models of interpersonal understanding, theory theory and simulation theory, portray the cognitive link between folk psychology and <span class='Hi'>empathy</span>. Next, I challenge their (...) internalist orthodoxy and offer an alternative "extended" characterization of <span class='Hi'>empathy</span>. In support of this characterization, I analyze some narratives of individuals with Moebius syndrome, a kind of expressive deficit resulting from bilateral facial paralysis. I conclude by discussing how a Zen Buddhist ethics of responsiveness is helpful for articulating the practical significance of an extended, body-based account of <span class='Hi'>empathy</span>. (shrink)
In the movie, Memento, the hero, Leonard, suffers from a form of anterograde amnesia that results in an inability to lay down new memories. Nonetheless, he sets out on a quest to find his wife’s killer, aided by the use of notes, annotated polaroids, and (for the most important pieces of information obtained) body tattoos. Using these resources he attempts to build up a stock of new beliefs and to thus piece together the puzzle of his wife’s death. At one (...) point in the movie, a character exasperated by Leonard’s lack of biological recall, shouts: “YOU know? What do YOU know. YOU don’t know anything. In 10 minutes time YOU won’t even know you had this conversation” Leonard, however, believes that he does, day by day, come to know new things. But only courtesy of those photos, tattoos, tricks and ploys. Who is right?These are the kinds of question addressed at length in the paper (co-authored with David Chalmers) ‘The ExtendedMind’. Is the mind contained (always? sometimes? never?) in the head? Or does the notion of thought allow mental processes (including believings) to inhere in extended systems of body, brain and aspects of the local environment? The answer, we claimed, was that mental states, including states of believing, could be grounded in physical traces that remained firmly outside the head. As long as a few simple conditions were met (more on which below), Leonard’s notes and tattoos could indeed count as new additions to his store of long-term knowledge and dispositional belief. In the present treatment I revisit this argument, defending our strong conclusion against a variety of subsequent observations and objections. In particular, I look at objections that rely on a contrast between the (putatively) intrinsic content of neural symbols and the merely derived content of external inscriptions, at objections concerning the demarcation of scientific domains via natural kinds, and at objections concerning the ultimate locus of agentive control and the nature of perception versus introspection. I also mention a possible alternative interpretation of the argument as (in effect) a reductio of the very idea of the mind as an object of scientific study. This is an interesting proposal. (shrink)
Experimental studies indicate that nonhuman animals and infants represent numerosities above three or four approximately and that their mental number line is logarithmic rather than linear. In contrast, human children from most cultures gradually acquire the capacity to denote exact cardinal values. To explain this difference, I take an extendedmind perspective, arguing that the distinctly human ability to use external representations as a complement for internal cognitive operations enables us to represent natural numbers. Reviewing neuroscientific, developmental, and (...) anthropological evidence, I argue that the use of external media that represent natural numbers (like number words, body parts, tokens or numerals) influences the functional architecture of the brain, which suggests a two-way traffic between the brain and cultural public representations. (shrink)
There’s a possibly more interesting general question: does technology transform and extend the mind and our mental powers? In a widely discussed 1998 paper titled “The ExtendedMind”, Andy Clark and David Chalmers argue that mind and cognition can extend outside the head and can include items and processes in the world. In their thought experiment, Otto has alzheimer’s syndrome but does not lose his ability to function because he records information he learns in a notebook (...) that he always carries. Thus, C&C claim, Otto continues to have beliefs. The notebooks function as his memory. C&C propose a "parity principle": a part of the world is part of a cognitive process if it "functions as a process which, were it done in the head, we would have no hesitation in recognizing [it] as part of the cognitive process .... Cognitive processes ain't (all) in the head!" (in Menary p. 29, original emphasis). (shrink)
This brief article introduces a symposium discussing the extendedmind thesis and its suggestive relation to religious thought. Essays by Mark Rowlands, Lynne Rudder Baker, Teed Rockwell, Joel Krueger, Leonard Angel, and Matthew Day present a variety of perspectives.
Robert Rupert is well-known as an vigorous opponent of the hypothesis of extended cognition (HEC). His Cognitive Systems and the ExtendedMind is a first-rate development of his “systems-based” approach to demarcating the mind. The results are impressive. Rupert’s account brings much-needed clarity to the often-frustrating debate over HEC: much more than just an attack on HEC, he gives a compelling picture of why the debate matters.
This special issue, which includes papers ﬁrst presented at two workshops on ‘Memory, Mind, and Media’ in Sydney on November 29–30 and December 2–3, 2004, showcases some of the best interdisciplinary work in philosophy and psychology by memory researchers in Australasia (and by one expatriate Australian, Robert Wilson of the University of Alberta). The papers address memory in many contexts: in dance and under hypnosis, in social groups and with siblings, in early childhood and in the laboratory. Memory is (...) taken as a test case for evaluating the optimistic vision of a new kind of cognitive science defended by Andy Clark. Clark (2001:154) argues: Much of what matters about human intelligence is hidden not in the brain, nor in the technology, but in the complex and iterated interactions and collaborations between the two ... The study of these interaction spaces is not easy, and depends both on new multidisciplinary alliances and new forms of modelling and analysis. The pay-oﬀ, however, could be spectacular: nothing less than a new kind of cognitive scientiﬁc collaboration involving neuroscience, physiology, and social, cultural, and technological studies in about equal measure. So the central motivation is to investigate critically how well the case of memory would ﬁt the extendedmind’ thesis put forward by Clark and Chalmers (Clark and Chalmers 1998; Clark 1997, 2006)—according to which mental states and processes can spread across the.. (shrink)
Abstract According to a standard view, the physical boundary of the person—the skin-and-skull boundary—matters morally because this boundary delineates between where the person begins and the world ends. On the basis of this view we make a distinction between invasive interventions that penetrate this boundary and non-invasive interventions that do not. The development of neuroprosthetics, however, raises questions about the significance of this boundary and the relationship between person and body. In particular it has been argued by appeal to the (...)ExtendedMind thesis that mind and person can extend beyond the body, and hence the skin-and-skull boundary is of questionable significance. In this paper I argue that the ExtendedMind thesis is consistent with the ethical relevance of the skin-and-skull barrier. Although it can be argued that cognitive processes and aspect of mind can extend beyond the skin-and-skull boundary as EM claims, it does not follow that the person is also extended beyond this boundary. The moral sense of person is closely related to the notion of person as a subject of experiences and this, in turn, is related to the sensory and somatosensory aspects of the body. The development of neuroprosthetics provides us with reason to see that persons can be variously embodied, but this is consistent with the functional and ethical significance of the skin-and-skull boundary. Content Type Journal Article Category Original Paper Pages 1-13 DOI 10.1007/s12152-011-9133-5 Authors Tom Buller, Philosophy Department, University of Alaska Anchorage, 3211 Providence Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508, USA Journal Neuroethics Online ISSN 1874-5504 Print ISSN 1874-5490. (shrink)
I will begin by noting two of the many convergences between my approach and that of Shaun Gallagher in his paper for the Socially ExtendedMind workshop (Gallagher 2011). First, his insistence on the enactive – or what we could call the “dynamic interactional” – character of mind, countering the somewhat static view of classical EM (ExtendedMind); and second, the move to a distributed notion of judgment, countering the lingering individualism of classical EM.
Andy Clark and David Chalmers have recently argued that the world beyond our skin can constitute part of the mind. That is, our minds can and sometimes do extend beyond our heads and bodies. Clark and Chalmers refer to this claim as the 'ExtendedMind'. After illustrating the ExtendedMind via a thought-experiment I turn to consider a criticism made by Lawrence Shapiro. After outlining Shapiro's claim I will show that in fact this does little (...) to call into to doubt the ExtendedMind. However, Clark holds that the ExtendedMind does face a serious criticism from the threat of 'Mental Bloat'; the worry here is that arguing that the mind extends beyond the skin quickly leads to absurdities. I consider Clark's response to this worry but find it to be unconvincing. However, I go on to show that there is in fact little to fear from Mental Bloat. Therefore, it will be my conclusion that there is some reason to hold that the mind ain't just in the head. (shrink)
This article explores the notion of the Web-extendedmind, which is the idea that the technological and informational elements of the Web can sometimes serve as part of the mechanistic substrate that realizes human mental states and processes. It is argued that while current forms of the Web may not be particularly suited to the realization of Web-extended minds, new forms of user interaction technology as well as new approaches to information representation do provide promising new opportunities (...) for Web-based forms of cognitive extension. In addition, it is suggested that extended cognitive systems often rely on the emergence of social practices and conventions that shape how a technology is used. Web-extended minds may thus depend on forms of socio-technical co-evolution in which social forces and factors play just as important a role as do the processes of technology design and development. (shrink)
Cognitive Systems and the ExtendedMind surveys philosophical issues raised by the situated movement in cognitive science, that is, the treatment of cognitive phenomena as the joint product of brain, body, and environment. The book focuses primarily on the hypothesis of extended cognition, which asserts that human cognitive processes literally comprise elements beyond the boundary of the human organism. Rupert argues that the only plausible way in which to demarcate cognitions is systems-based: cognitive states or processes are (...) the states of the integrated set of mechanisms and capacities that contribute casually and distinctively to the production of cognitive phenomena--for example, language-use, memory, decision-making, theory construction, and, more importantly, the associated forms of behavior. Rupert argues that this integrated systems is most likely to appear within the boundaries of the human organism. He argues that the systems-based view explains the existing successes of cognitive psychology and cognate fields in a way that extended conceptions of cognition do not, and that once the systems-based view has been adopted, it is especially clear how extant arguments in support of the extended view go wrong. Cognitive Systems also examines further aspects of the situated program in cognitive science, including the embedded and embodied approaches to cognition. Rupert asks to what extent the plausible incarnations of these situated views depart from orthodox, computational cognitive science. Here, Rupert focuses on the notions of representation and computation, arguing that the embedded and embodied views do not constitute the radical shifts in perspective they are often claimed to be. Rupert also argues that, properly understood, the embodied view does not offer a new role for the body, different in principle from the one presupposed by orthodox cognitive science. (shrink)
The ExtendedMind Hypothesis (EMH) needs a defence of phenomenal externalism in order to be consistent with an indispensable condition for attributing extended beliefs, concerning the conscious past endorsement of information. However, it is difficult, if not impossible, to envisage such a defence. Proponents ofthe EMH are thus confronted with a difficult dilemma: they either accept absurd attributions of belief, and thus deflate EMH, or incorporate, for compatibility reasons, the conscious past endorsement condition for extended belief (...) attribution, implying a seemingly unavailable defence of phenomenal externalism, and thus risk inconsistency within EMH. Either way, EMH is threatened. (shrink)
The extended-mind thesis says that mental states can extend beyond one’s skin. Clark and Chalmers infer from this that the subjects of such states also extend beyond their skin: the extended-self thesis. The paper asks what exactly the extended-self thesis says, whether it really does follow from the extended-mind thesis, and what it would mean if it were true. It concludes that the extended-self thesis is unattractive, and does not follow from the (...) class='Hi'>extendedmind unless thinking beings are literally bundles of mental states. (shrink)
Where does the mind stop and the rest of the world begin? The question invites two standard replies. Some accept the demarcations of skin and skull, and say that what is outside the body is outside the mind. Others are impressed by arguments suggesting that the meaning of our words "just ain't in the head", and hold that this externalism about meaning carries over into an externalism about mind. We propose to pursue a third position. We advocate (...) a very different sort of externalism: an _active externalism_ , based on the active role of the environment in driving cognitive processes. (shrink)
This book is about the epistemologically different worlds (hyperverse) in relationship with the "I", the mind-body problem (Frith, Llinas), Bechtel's mechanisms, Clark's extendedmind, Bickle's molecular and cellular cognition, Kauffman's life, quantum mechanics, gravity, hyperspace vs. hyperverse -/- .
A suitable project for the new Millenium is to radically reconfigure our image of human rationality. Such a project is already underway, within the Cognitive Sciences, under the umbrellas of work in Situated Cognition, Distributed and De-centralized Cogition, Real-world Robotics and Artificial Life1. Such approaches, however, are often criticized for giving certain aspects of rationality too wide a berth. They focus their attention on on such superficially poor cousins as.
In Cognitive Integration: Attacking The Bounds of Cognition Richard Menary argues that the real pay-off from extended-mind-style arguments is not a new form of externalism in the philosophy of mind, but a view in which the 'internal' and 'external' aspects of cognition are integrated into a whole. Menary argues that the manipulation of external vehicles constitutes cognitive processes and that cognition is hybrid: internal and external processes and vehicles complement one another in the completion of cognitive tasks. (...) However, we cannot make good on these claims without understanding the cognitive norms by which we manipulate bodily external vehicles of cognition. -/- Shaun Gallagher: “Menary sets out some extremely welcome clarifications that help to integrate the models of embodied and extended cognition. He not only provides convincing responses to all of the main objections that have been made against these approaches, he also puts flesh on the integrated model by incorporating concepts such as epistemic action, by expanding the discussion to include a Peircean view of representation, by demonstrating its evolutionary roots, and by exploring its implications for language and cognition. This is one of those books that takes us forward a number of giant steps. Menary makes it comprehensive and comprehensible.” . (shrink)
Vision constitutes an interesting domain, or range of domains, for debate over the extendedmind thesis, the idea that minds physically extend beyond the boundaries of the body. In part this is because vision and visual experience more particularly are sometimes presented as a kind of line in the sand for what we might call externalist creep about the mind: once all reasonable concessions have been made to externalists about the mind, visual experience marks a line (...) beyond which lies a safe haven for individualists. Here I want to put a little more pressure on such a view of visual experience, as well as to offer a more constructive, positive argument in defense of the idea of extended vision. (shrink)
This paper explores the relationship between several ideas about the mind and cognition. The hypothesis of extended cognition claims that cognitive processes can and do extend outside the head, that elements of the world around us can actually become parts of our cognitive systems. It has recently been suggested that the hypothesis of extended cognition is entailed by one of the foremost philosophical positions on the nature of the mind: functionalism, the thesis that mental states are (...) defined by their functional relations rather than by their physical constituents. Furthermore, it has been claimed that functionalism entails a version of extended cognition which is sufficiently radical as to be obviously false. I survey the debate and propose several ways of avoiding this conclusion, emphasizing the importance of distinguishing the hypothesis of extended cognition from the related notion of the extendedmind. (shrink)
In their historical overview of cognitive science, Bechtel, Abraham- son and Graham (1999) describe the ﬁeld as expanding in focus be- ginning in the mid-1980s. The ﬁeld had spent the previous 25 years on internalist, high-level GOFAI (“good old fashioned artiﬁcial intelli- gence” [Haugeland 1985]), and was ﬁnally moving “outwards into the environment and downards into the brain” (Bechtel et al, 1999, p.75). One important force behind the downward movement was Patricia Churchland’s Neurophilosophy (1986). This book began a movement bearing (...) its name, one that truly came of age in 1999 when Kath- leen Akins won a million-dollar fellowship to begin the McDonnell Project in Philosophy and the Neurosciences. The McDonnell Project put neurophilosophy at the forefront of philosophy of mind and cogni- tive science, yielding proliferating articles, conferences, special journal issues and books. In two major new books, neurophilosophers Patricia Churchland (2002) and John Bickle (2003) clearly feel this newfound prominence: Churchland mocks those who do not apply ﬁndings in neuroscience to philosophical problems as “no-brainers”; Bickle mocks anyone with traditional philosophical concerns, including “naturalistic philosophers of mind” and other neurophilosophers. (shrink)
This commentry focuses on the one major ecumenical theme propounded in Andy Clark's Being There that I find difficult to accept; this is Clarks advocacy, especially in the third and final part of the book, of the extended nature of the embedded, embodied mind.
The hypothesis of extended cognition (HEC), or the claim that cognitive processes are not entirely organism-bound and can extend into the world, has received a barrage of criticism. Likewise, defenders of HEC have responded and even retreated into more moderate positions. In this paper, I trace the debate, rehearsing what I take to be the three strongest cases against HEC: nonderived content, causally natural kinds, and informational integration. I then argue that so far, the replies have been unsatisfactory, mainly (...) because they rest on tacit assumptions about the nature of ?human organisms,? which are the very subjects in question. One such reply, Clark's (2008) recent hypothesis of organism-centered cognition (HOC), is shown to be a particularly hasty retreat, specifically in terms of tackling the issue of informational integration. Namely, my position is that Clark concedes too quickly that the organism is the ?chief executor? of this cognitive function and I claim this on the grounds that (1) not all human organisms integrate information in the way Weiskopf (2008) argues they do, and (2) it is not impossible for external tools to be an informationally integrative component of a ?systemic whole.? (shrink)
William James’s characterization of consciousness as a selecting agency can be used to develop and defend an externalist view of mind. The mind – including the content of phenomenal consciousness – is in an important sense distributed beyond the skin and skull of the subject, out into the world of people and things. Moreover, conscious experience is an action, and not simply something that happens to us. Consciousness, perception, and experience are activities – in other words, things that (...) we do. (shrink)
According to Buddhism's four noble truths, (1) we find our lives filled with anguished suffering because (2) we habitually crave for life to be other than it is; and (3) this habit of craving will cease (4) only if we cultivate in our lives the Buddha's path of mental discipline, wisdom, and moral conduct. The aim of Buddhist practice is to cure craving. There is a model of the self that can be derived from the recent work of some philosophers (...) in the field of cognitive science, Andy Clark in particular. His writings suggest a model of the self that is spread out or extended. I will argue that the model of the extended self offers contemporary insight for interpreting what craving is in the Buddhist sense and how to cure it. (shrink)
While memory is conceptualized predominantly as an individual capacity in the cognitive and biological sciences, the social sciences have most commonly construed memory as a collective phenomenon. Collective memory has been put to diverse uses, ranging from accounts of nationalism in history and political science to views of ritualization and commemoration in anthropology and sociology. These appeals to collective memory share the idea that memory ‘‘goes beyond the individual’’ but often run together quite diﬀerent claims in spelling out that idea. (...) This paper reviews a sampling of recent work on collective memory in the light of emerging externalist views within the cognitive sciences, and through some reﬂection on broader traditions of thought in the biological and social sciences that have appealed to the idea that groups have minds. The paper concludes with some thoughts about the relationship between these kinds of cognitive metaphors in the social sciences and our notion of agency. (shrink)
A common picture of evolution by natural selection sees it as a process through which organisms change so that they become better adapted to their environment. However, agents do not merely respond to the challenges their environments pose. They modify their environments, filtering and transforming the action of the environment on their bodies A beaver, in making a dam, engineers a stream, increasing both the size of its safe refuge and reducing its seasonal variability. Beavers, like many other animals, are (...) ecological engineers. They act to modify the physical challenges posed by their environment. Nests, burrows and other shelters reduce the impacts of adverse weather and of other agents. Animal also modify their exposure to biological risks. Hygienic behaviour reduces the impact of disease. Intensive grooming; moving to new roosts; using a. (shrink)
In recent years, much has been written about situated cognition, a movement in cognitive science that appears to have important philosophical implications (Robbins and Aydede 2009). Agents of this situated turn expound a variety of positive views; thus, at least initially, the movement may be best explained in terms of what its practitioners reject. The great majority of situated theorists direct their philosophical ire at a computer-based vision of human thought that came to prominence in the 1960s.
Recent experimental evidence from developmental psychology and cogni- tive neuroscience indicates that humans are equipped with unlearned elementary math- ematical skills. However, formal mathematics has properties that cannot be reduced to these elementary cognitive capacities. The question then arises how human beings cognitively deal with more advanced mathematical ideas. This paper draws on the extendedmind thesis to suggest that mathematical symbols enable us to delegate some mathematical operations to the external environment. In this view, mathematical symbols are (...) not only used to express mathematical concepts—they are constitutive of the mathematical concepts themselves. Mathematical symbols are epistemic actions, because they enable us to represent concepts that are literally unthinkable with our bare brains. Using case-studies from the history of mathematics and from educational psychology, we argue for an intimate relationship between mathematical symbols and mathematical cognition. (shrink)
In Furnishing the mind, Prinz defends a view of concept representation that assumes all representations are rooted in perception. This view is attractive, because it makes clear how concepts could be learned from experience in the world. In this paper, we discuss three limitations of the view espoused by Prinz. First, the central proposal requires more detail in order to support the claim that all representations are modal. Second, it is not clear that a theory of concepts must make (...) a realist assumption. Third, the arguments focus on object categories that can be described by features, which are only one of many types of categories. Despite the flaws in the book, however, it clearly highlights a road that can be taken by those interested in defending an empiricist view of concepts. (shrink)
Does your dog know when it is time for walkies, even if you are in a different room when you decide to take it out? Can you sometimes tell that you are being stared at, even when your kibitzer is some distance away and completely hidden? If so, Rupert Sheldrake (www.sheldrake.org) would like to hear from you. He has compiled a database of over 5,000 such cases, and would be glad to learn of any more.
The “extendedmind” thesis (Clark, 2008) has focused primarily on the interactions between single individuals and cognitive artifacts, resulting in a relative neglect of interactions between people. At the same time, the idea that groups can have cognitive properties of their own has gained new ascendancy in various fields concerned with collective behavior. My main goal in this paper is to propose an understanding of group cognition as an emergent form of socially distributed cognition. To that end, I (...) first clarify the relevant notions of cognition and emergence that are at play in the contemporary debate. I then apply our conceptual framework to recent developments in the theory of transactive memory systems (Wegner, 1986), arguing that the idea of group cognition is neither trivial nor shrouded in metaphysical mystery. (shrink)
In this paper, we approach the idea of group cognition from the perspective of the “extendedmind” thesis, as a special case of the more general claim that systems larger than the individual human, but containing that human, are capable of cognition (Clark, 2008; Clark & Chalmers, 1998). Instead of deliberating about “the mark of the cognitive” (Adams & Aizawa, 2008), our discussion of group cognition is tied to particular cognitive capacities. We review recent studies of group problem-solving (...) and group memory which reveal that specific cognitive capacities that are commonly ascribed to individuals are also aptly ascribed at the level of groups. These case studies show how dense interactions among people within a group lead to both similarity-inducing and differentiating dynamics that affect the group's ability to solve problems. This supports our claim that groups have organization-dependent cognitive capacities that go beyond the simple aggregation of the cognitive capacities of individuals. Group cognition is thus an emergent phenomenon in the sense of Wimsatt (1986). We further argue that anybody who rejects our strategy for showing that cognitive properties can be instantiated at multiple levels in the organizational hierarchy on a priori grounds is a “demergentist,” and thus incurs the burden of proof for explaining why cognitive properties are “stuck” at a certain level of organizational structure. Finally, we show that our analysis of group cognition escapes the “coupling-constitution” charge that has been leveled against the extendedmind thesis (Adams & Aizawa, 2008). (shrink)
It is often claimed that scientists can obtain new knowledge about nature by running computer simulations. How is this possible? I answer this question by arguing that computer simulations are arguments. This view parallels Norton’s argument view about thought experiments. I show that computer simulations can be reconstructed as arguments that fully capture the epistemic power of the simulations. Assuming the extendedmind hypothesis, I furthermore argue that running the computer simulation is to execute the reconstructing argument. I (...) discuss some objections and reject the view that computer simulations produce knowledge because they are experiments. I conclude by comparing thought experiments and computer simulations, assuming that both are arguments. (shrink)
Do our minds extend beyond our brains? In a series of publications, Mark Rowlands has argued that the correct answer to this question is an affirmative one. According to Rowlands, certain types of operations on bodily and worldly structures should be considered to be proper and literal parts of our cognitive and mental processes. In this article, I present and critically evaluate Rowlands' position.
Andy Clark's Supersizing the Mind begins as a manifesto in which the components of an embodied theory of mind are carefully moved into place, proceeds to a defense of these components from recent critical attacks, and ends with words of caution to those who would seek to extract too much from the embodied perspective. Readers unfamiliar with Clark's earlier works are likely to find the result dazzling -- an exciting, novel, and coherent conception of the mind that (...) dares one to abandon nearly every vestige of a comfortably Cartesian view of mind. Of course, philosophers of mind have, for the most part, already jettisoned the idea that minds are an ethereal sort of non-physical substance. We can now assert with no great temerity that Descartes was wrong about that. Even so, one might still agree with Descartes that minds are in some sense distinct from bodies. They are, as it were, in the head. Yet, if Clark's case for embodiment is on track, minds are not in the head. The supervenience base for a mind (and not simply mental content) can include pieces of the extracranial body and, indeed, objects in the world beyond. (shrink)
We present a specific elaboration and partial defense of the claims that cognition is enactive, embodied, embedded, affective and (potentially) extended. According to the view we will defend, the enactivist claim that perception and cognition essentially depend upon the cognizer’s interactions with their environment is fundamental. If a particular instance of this kind of dependence obtains, we will argue, then it follows that cognition is essentially embodied and embedded, that the underpinnings of cognition are inextricable from those of affect, (...) that the phenomenon of cognition itself is essentially bound up with affect, and that the possibility of cognitive extension depends upon the instantiation of a specific mode of skillful interrelation between cognizer and environment. Thus, if cognition is enactive then it is also embodied, embedded, affective and potentially extended. (shrink)
When extended cognition is extended into mainstream epistemology, an awkward tension arises when considering cases of environmental epistemic luck. Surprisingly, it is not at all clear how the mainstream verdict that agents lack knowledge in cases of environmental luck can be reconciled with principles central to extended cognition.
Andy Clark once remarked that we make the world smart so we don’t have to be (Clark, 1997). What he meant was that human beings (along with many other animals) alter and transform their environments in order to accomplish certain tasks that would prove difficult (or indeed impossible) without such transformations. This remarkable insight goes a long way towards explaining many aspects of human culture, ranging from linguistic notational systems to how we structure our cities. It also provides the basis (...) for Mark Rowlands’ thought-provoking and insightful book, The New Science of the Mind. (shrink)
Talk of group minds has arisen in a number of distinct traditions, such as in sociological thinking about the “madness of crowds” in the 19th-century, and more recently in making sense of the collective intelligence of social insects, such as bees and ants. Here we provide an analytic framework for understanding a range of contemporary appeals to group minds and cognate notions, such as collective agency, shared intentionality, socially distributed cognition, transactive memory systems, and group-level cognitive adaptations.
Less than a decade ago, “rational choice theory” seemed oddly impervious to criticism. Hundreds of books, articles and studies were published every year, attacking the theory from every angle, yet it continued to attract new converts. How times have changed! The “anomalies” that Richard Thaler once blithely cataloged for the Journal of Economic Perspectives are now widely regarded, not as curious deviations from the norm, but as falsifying counterexamples to the entire project of neoclassical economics. The work of experimental game (...) theorists has perhaps been the most influential in showing that people do not maximize expected utility, in any plausible sense of the terms “maximize,” “expected,” or “utility.” The evidence is so overwhelming and incontrovertible that, by the time one gets to the end of a book like Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational,1 it begins to feel like piling on. The suggestion is pretty clear: not only are people not as rational as decision and game theorists have traditionally taken them to be, they are not even as rational as they themselves take themselves to be. This conclusion, however, is not self-evident. The standard interpretation of these findings is that people are irrational: their estimation of probabilities is vulnerable to framing effects, their treatment of (equivalent) losses and gains is asymmetric, their choices violate the sure-thing principle, they discount the future hyperbolically, and so on. Indeed, after surveying the experimental findings, one begins to wonder how people manage to get on in their daily lives at all, given the seriousness and ubiquity of these deliberative pathologies. And yet, most people do manage to get on, in some form or another. This in itself suggests an.. (shrink)
This paper attempts to do two things. First, it recounts the problem of intentionality, as it has typically been conceptualized, and argues that it needs to be reconceptualized in light of the radical form of externalism most commonly referred to as the extendedmind thesis. Second, it provides an explicit, novel argument for that thesis, what I call the argument from meaning making, and offers some defense of that argument. This second task occupies the core of the paper, (...) and in completing it I distinguish _active _ _cognition_ from _cyborg fantasy arguments_ for externalism, and develop the analogy between the extendedmind thesis in the cognitive sciences and developmental systems theory in developmental biology. The rethinking of the problem of intentionality on offer leads not so much to a solution as to a dissolution of that problem, as traditionally conceived. (shrink)
According to the extended cognition hypothesis (henceforth ExC), there are conditions under which thinking and thoughts (or more precisely, the material vehicles that realize thinking and thoughts) are spatially distributed over brain, body and world, in such a way that the external (beyond-the-skin) factors concerned are rightly accorded fully-paid-up cognitive status.1 According to functionalism in the philosophy of mind, “what makes something a mental state of a particular type does not depend on its internal constitution, but rather on (...) the way it functions, or the role it plays, in the system of which it is a part” (Levin 2008). The respective fates of these two positions may not be independent of each other. The claim that ExC is in some way a form of, dependent on, entailed by, or at least commonly played out in terms of, functionalism is now pretty much part of the received view of things (see, e.g., Adams and Aizawa 2008; Clark and Chalmers 1998; Clark 2005, 2008, this volume a, b, forthcoming; Menary 2007; Rupert 2004; Sprevak manuscript; Wheeler forthcoming). Thus ExC might be mandated by the existence of functionally specified cognitive systems whose boundaries are located partly outside the skin. This is the position that Andy Clark has recently dubbed extended functionalism (Clark 2008, forthcoming; see also Wheeler forthcoming). (shrink)
Grush's framework has epistemological implications and explains how it is possible to acquire offline empirical knowledge. It also complements the extended-mind thesis, which says that mind leaks into the world. Grush's framework suggests that the world leaks into the mind through the offline deployment of emulators that we usually deploy in our experience of the world.
Extended cognition is the view that some cognitive processes extend beyond the brain. One prominent strategy of arguing against extended cognition is to offer necessary conditions on cognition and argue that the proposed extended processes fail to satisfy these conditions. I argue that this strategy is misguided and fails to refute extended cognition. I suggest a better way to evaluate the case for extended cognition that should be acceptable to all parties, captures the intuitiveness of (...) previous objections, and avoids the problems with the strategy of offering necessary conditions on cognition. I conclude that extended cognition theorists have failed to establish the truth of extended cognition. (shrink)
This paper discusses two perspectives, each of which recognises the importance of environmental resources in enhancing and amplifying our cognitive capacity. One is the Clark–Chalmers model, extended further by Clark and others. The other derives from niche construction models of evolution, models which emphasise the role of active agency in enhancing the adaptive fit between agent and world. In the human case, much niche construction is epistemic: making cognitive tools and assembling other informational resources that support and scaffold intelligent (...) action. I shall argue that extendedmind cases are limiting cases of environmental scaffolding, and while the extendedmind picture is not false, the niche construction model is a more helpful framework for understanding human action. (shrink)