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Essays in Philosophy

Volume 17, Issue 2, July 2016
Extended Cognition and the Extended Mind

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Displaying: 1-11 of 11 documents

editor’s introduction
1. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 17 > Issue: 2
Gary Bartlett Extended Cognition and the Extended Mind: Introduction
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2. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 17 > Issue: 2
Andrew Winters Cognitive Processes and Asymmetrical Dependencies, or How Thinking is Like Swimming
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Where does the cognitive system begin and end? Intracranialists (such as Rupert, Adams, and Aizawa) maintain that the cognitive system is entirely identifiable with the biological central nervous system (CNS). Transcranialists (such as Clark and Chalmers), on the other hand, suggest that the cognitive system can extend beyond the biological CNS. In the second division of Supersizing the Mind, Clark defends the transcranial account against various objections. Of interest for this paper is Clark’s response to what he calls “asymmetry arguments.” Asymmetry arguments can be summarized as follows: subtract the props and aids, and the organism may create replacements. But subtract the organism, and all cognitive activity ceases. Although I am sympathetic to Clark’s overall project, I find his response to the asymmetry arguments inadequate in light of his responses to other objections. For this reason, I maintain that Clark’s response requires revision. By adopting a process metaphysics and appealing to mereological dependencies, I believe that Clark can provide a substantive response to asymmetry arguments that is consistent with his overall theory. This paper unfolds as follows: after summarizing Clark’s response to the asymmetry objection in (§2), I will argue that his response is unsuccessful in (§3). My argument hinges on the claim that Clark does not take into account the full intent of Rupert’s asymmetry argument. In (§4) I modify Clark’s response by appealing to mereology and the asymmetrical dependencies found therein. I conclude in (§5) that this modification provides Clark with an adequate response to the asymmetry argument and is consistent with his overall transcranialist account. The further question of whether this account assists Clark in responding to other intracranialist objections is beyond the scope of this paper.
3. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 17 > Issue: 2
Caroline King Learning Disability and the Extended Mind
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In his critique of the extended mind hypothesis, Robert Rupert suggests that we have no reason to move from the claim that cognition is deeply embedded in the environment to the more radical claim that, in some cases, cognition itself extends into the environment. In this paper, I argue that we have strong normative reasons to prefer the more radical extended mind hypothesis to Rupert’s modest embedded mind hypothesis. I take an agnostic position on the metaphysical debate about the ultimate nature and location of the mind, and instead argue in favor of the extended mind framework on the basis of its ability to better capture normative concerns about the way we evaluate the cognitive capacities of learning disabled individuals. In light of the commitments of the embedded and extended mind frameworks, defenders of the embedded mind framework are committed to conclusions about learning-disabled individuals that we have good normative reason to reject, whereas the extended mind framework avoids such problematic conclusions. Thus, if we find these normative concerns persuasive, we have good reason to prefer the extended mind position.
4. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 17 > Issue: 2
Brock Bahler Merleau-Ponty on Embodied Cognition: A Phenomenological Interpretation of Spinal Cord Epidural Stimulation and Paralysis
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In a study in Brain (2014), Dr. Susan Harkema and her fellow researchers demonstrated that the input of an electronic epidural stimulator in the lower spinal cord of four completely paralyzed patients allowed them to regain voluntary movement in their toes, defying the longstanding scientific position regarding sensory and motor complete paralysis. Harkema herself admits that she thought this achievement was impossible at the outset, as she believed that the body is incapable of movement without receiving complex signals from the brain. Many cognitive neuroscientists continue to maintain this standpoint of Cartesian dualism. In response, I argue that the insights of Maurice Merleau-Ponty provide a possible explanation of the results of this new research. Merleau-Ponty insisted that I am my body and that the body has its own kind of knowledge about the world. This framework serves as the backdrop for recent phenomenological studies in cognitive neuroscience. In this vein, this essay will consider how Merleau-Ponty’s account of embodiment provides an ample model for explaining the findings of Susan Harkema’s current spinal cord research.
5. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 17 > Issue: 2
Gina Zavota Expanding the Extended Mind: Merleau-Ponty’s Late Ontology as Radical Enactive Cognition
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In this essay, I argue that the late ontology of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, in particular the system he began to develop in The Visible and the Invisible, can be conceived of as a form of Radical Enactive Cognition, as described by Hutto and Myin in Radicalizing Enactivism. I will begin by discussing Clark and Chalmers’ extended mind hypothesis, as well as the enactive view of consciousness proposed by Varela, Thompson, and Rosch in The Embodied Mind. However, neither Clark and Chalmers’ extended mind hypothesis nor the enactive view of consciousness advanced by Varela et al. are radical enough to fully capture Merleau-Ponty’s late ontology. Inasmuch as Hutto and Myin’s formulation combines features of the extended mind thesis and enactivism, and expresses both in a sufficiently radical fashion, it overcomes the deficits of both theories and can serve as a translation, so to speak, of Merleau-Ponty’s “ontology of the flesh” into contemporary terms. In particular, their formulation makes explicit several central aspects of his theory: the intimate, mutually constitutive relationship between perceiver and perceived world, the equal weight given to the contributions of perceiver and world within this relationship, and the displacement of representational content from its central position in the understanding of consciousness. It is thus the ideal vehicle for demonstrating some perhaps unexpected ways in which Merleau-Ponty’s thought is compatible with contemporary conversations concerning the nature of mind.
6. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 17 > Issue: 2
Makoto Kureha The Unbounded and Social Mind: Dewey on the Locus of Mind
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In the recent debate concerning the boundary of mind, the extended mind thesis (EMT), which states that our mind and cognition are extended into the environment, is influential as an antithesis to the internalist (or Cartesian) view, according to which mind and cognition are in the head. However, EMT has some serious difficulties. On the contrary to its proponents’ claim, EMT contributes neither to demystifying the mind, nor to promoting our understanding of cognition. Moreover, it leads to an extreme kind of individualism by regarding environmental resources as constituents of individual human minds. After showing this, I explore an alternative anti-Cartesian picture of mind through citing Dewey’s view of the locus of mind. Although the proponents of EMT often invoke Dewey as a pioneer of their view, his view is in fact the one that should be called the ‘unbounded mind’ rather than the ‘extended mind’. Furthermore, I show that Dewey’s view indicates a root to overcome the individualistic dogma that is shared by internalists and the EMT theorists.
7. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 17 > Issue: 2
J. M. Fritzman, Kristin Thornburg “I Is Someone Else”: Constituting the Extended Mind’s Fourth Wave, with Hegel
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We seek to constitute the extended mind’s fourth wave, socially distributed group cognition, and we do so by thinking with Hegel. The extended mind theory’s first wave invokes the parity principle, which maintains that processes that occur external to the organism’s skin should be considered mental if they are regarded as mental when they occur inside the organism. The second wave appeals to the complementarity principle, which claims that what is crucial is that these processes together constitute a cognitive system. The first two waves assume that cognitive systems have well-defined territories or boundaries, and that internal and external processes do not switch location. The third wave rejects these assumptions, holding instead that internal processes are not privileged, and internal and external processes can switch, and that processes can be distributed among individuals. The fourth wave would advocate socially distributed group cognition. Groups are deterritorialized collective agents; they are ineliminatively and irreducibly real, they have mental states. Individuals constitute groups, but groups also constitute individuals. What counts as an individual and a group is a function of the level of analysis. And they are conflicted.
book reviews
8. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 17 > Issue: 2
Andrew Fitz-Gibbon Review of Love and Forgiveness for a More Just World, ed. Hent De Vries and Nils F. Schott
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9. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 17 > Issue: 2
Wendy Lynne Lee Review of The United States and Terrorism: An Ironic Perspective, by Ron Hirschbein
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10. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 17 > Issue: 2
Maximiliano E. Korstanje Review of “Music and Youth Culture in Latin America: identity construction Processes from New York to Buenos Aires”, ed. Pablo Vila
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11. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 17 > Issue: 2
Evan Butts Review of The Unexplained Intellect: Complexity, Time, and the Metaphysics of Embodied Thought, by Christopher Mole
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