Mind embedded or extended: transhumanist and posthumanist reflections in support of the extended mind thesis

Synthese 200 (6):1-24 (2022)
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Abstract

The goal of this paper is to encourage participants in the debate about the locus of cognition (e.g., extended mind vs embedded mind) to turn their attention to noteworthy anthropological and sociological considerations typically (but not uniquely) arising from transhumanist and posthumanist research. Such considerations, we claim, promise to potentially give us a way out of the stalemate in which such a debate has fallen. A secondary goal of this paper is to impress trans and post-humanistically inclined readers to embrace (or at least seriously reflect on) the extended mind thesis as a potential gamechanger to the state of play in their own debates. We start off (Sect. 1) by reviewing two crucial ideas (homo faber and plasticity of the body schema) that are instrumental in setting up the dispute between extended and embedded. We then summarise (Sect. 2), the stalemate between these two competing accounts of cognition, and review some of the dialectics underlying it. In Sect. 3, to get out of the stalemate, we propose to focus on a series of important anthropological and sociological considerations derived from and related to trans and posthumanist research. In doing so, we claim (Sect. 4) that an extended approach to cognition becomes anthropologically preferable and morally as well as socially more desirable than an embedded one.

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