Internalism, Active Externalism, and Nonconceptual Content: The Ins and Outs of Cognition

Cognitive Science 31 (2):257-283 (2007)
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Active externalism (also known as the extended mind hypothesis) says that we use objects and situations in the world as external memory stores that we consult as needs dictate. This gives us economies of storage: We do not need to remember that Bill has blue eyes and wavy hair if we can acquire this information by looking at Bill. I argue for a corollary to this position, which I call ‘internalism.’ Internalism says we can acquire knowledge on a need‐to‐know basis by consulting portable, inner analogues of the world. This, however, leads to a dilemma. If the knowledge was stored in memory, it is difficult to see how we could have acquired it by consulting inner analogues, for it would seem that we knew it already. Moreover, if it was stored in memory, we lose the economies of storage that provide much of the rationale for external memory stores and hence for their inner analogues. If, on the other hand, the knowledge was not stored in memory, it is difficult to see how we could have acquired it by consulting inner analogues, for it was not there to be acquired. I propose a solution to this problem that turns on the concept of nonconceptual content, and I relate the solution to Stephen Kosslyn's (1994) architecture of perception and visual mental imagery. Viewed in a broader context, the solution shows that the world leaks into the mind, as well as mind leaking into the world.



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Critique of Pure Reason.I. Kant - 1787/1998 - Philosophy 59 (230):555-557.
Mind and World.Huw Price & John McDowell - 1994 - Philosophical Books 38 (3):169-181.
Fact, Fiction, and Forecast.Nelson Goodman - 1955 - Philosophy 31 (118):268-269.
A Study of Concepts.Christopher Peacocke - 1992 - Studia Logica 54 (1):132-133.

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