Clark and Chalmers present the idea of "active externalism" similar to semantic externalism , in which objects within the environment function as a part of the mind. They argue that the separation between the mind, the body, and the environment is an unprincipled distinction. Because external objects play a significant role in aiding cognitive processes, the mind and the environment act as a "coupled system" that can be seen as a complete cognitive system of its own. In this manner, the mind is extended into the physical world. The main criterion that Clark and Chalmers list for classifying the use of external objects during cognitive tasks as a part of an extended cognitive system is that the external objects must function with the same purpose as the internal processes. The fictional characters Otto and Inga are both travelling to a museum simultaneously.
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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. 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. The difference is just that operations are realized not in the neural system alone but in the whole embodied system located in the world" p. There is also the idea of scaffolding.
Cognitive agents alter their environments in an effort to enhance their cognitive capacities. These augmented cognitive capacities in turn suggest further modifications of the environment, generating still greater cognitive abilities, leading to even further environmental modifications, and so on.
We do not just self-engineer better worlds to think in. We self-engineer ourselves to think and perform better in the worlds we find ourselves in" p. And there is fascinating new material, such as a discussion of a monkey trained to move a distant robot arm with just its thoughts. Of course, many will see the evidence Clark assembles for embodiment to be easily, and perhaps more naturally, interpretable in other ways.
Why take the further step of insisting that pieces of the world to which the subject saccades become literally parts of the visual process? Use of a hammer, after all, does not entail that the hammer becomes literally part of the arm. How does this possibly imply that the mind extends beyond the brain? To be sure, the skeptic might press, the body is critically important for cognition.
Part Two of Supersizing the Mind, "Boundary Disputes," mounts a more thorough and convincing defense of the ideas that Part One has introduced. Adams and Aizawa in particular, but Rupert as well, have challenged Clark on a number of fronts. In response, critics of extended cognition have argued that the cognitive routines involving biological memory and those involving external stores of information are importantly different.
Adams and Aizawa and Rupert point to phenomena like the primacy effect and negative transfer as features distinctive of the cognitive routines of biological memory and point out that these effects would not exist for notebook entries.
But, Clark rejoins, [the] claim was not that the processes in Otto and Inga are identical, or even similar, in terms of their detailed implementation. It is simply that, with respect to the role that the long-term encodings play in guiding current response, both modes of storage can be seen as supporting dispositional beliefs.
It is the way the information is poised to guide reasoning … and behavior that counts. With regard to the first question, Clark repeatedly claims that the argument for extended cognition was never meant to hinge on fine-grained similarity pp. Clark asks us to imagine creatures with memory processes quite distinct from those in a normal human being. Clark asserts that we would not deny that these creatures have dispositional beliefs merely because their cognitive processes are unlike our own.
Thus, detailed similarity is not a necessary condition for being a cognitive process, and Adams and Aizawa, as well as Rupert, have been throwing punches at a straw man. There is, however, a lacuna here. Clark argues against the claim that fine-grained similarity is a necessary condition for regarding an extended process as cognitive, but the critic may still respond that sameness of coarse-grained similarity is insufficient.
But suppose we accept the sufficiency claim. This is not so clear. There are important differences between Otto and Inga, e. Moreover, our beliefs are updated automatically and this updating immediately results in the updating of a host of other beliefs, but this is not the case for Otto and his notebook.
On the other hand, maybe whether the notebook entries are genuine beliefs or mere ersatz beliefs should not matter too much. What really matters to Clark is establishing that minds extend. Part Three, "The Limits of Embodiment," finds Clark reining in the ambitions of some who, he believes, have pushed the embodied perspective beyond its proper scope, or have misunderstood some of its consequences.
In a number of important papers with his collaborator J. Why not suppose, Clark reasonably asks, that some perceptual experience is insensitive to differences in sensorimotor contingencies, allowing the possibility that organisms with different perceptual systems, or different modes of interacting with the world, may nevertheless have quite similar perceptual experiences?
In The Mind Incarnate , Shapiro argued that embodied cognition presents a challenge to the standard functionalist conception of mind, according to which minds are body-neutral, meaning that it should be possible to characterize the properties of a mind independently of the body and brain that realizes it. Rather, Shapiro observed, research in embodied cognition suggests that bodies matter in ways that functionalists tend to deny, to the extent that organisms with gross morphological differences would similarly display mental differences.
However, Clark counters, one might imagine very different sorts of bodies with different sorts of sensory organs that, as a result of compensatory activities, end up producing identical perceptual experiences. If all that matters to minds are computational processes, or if minds just are particular sorts of computational processes, one must begin to wonder about the novelty of embodied cognition.
Is Clark simply recounting in greater detail how this might be true? Critical as this review has been, we hope as well to have conveyed the excitement of the ideas that Clark has done us the great favor of developing. Just as his earlier Being There launched many a research project, we expect that Supersizing the Mind will inspire a new generation of philosophers, psychologists, and artificial intelligence researchers to reconsider some basic assumptions about the mind.
This is always the way of progress. References Adams, F. Clark, A. Gertler, B. Gertler and L. Shapiro, New York: Routledge, pp. Rupert, R. Shapiro, L.
Supersizing the Mind
Since some external objects fulfill this requirement, they argued, some of our cognitive processes transcend the boundaries of skin and skull. Supersizing the Mind has ten chapters. Part II chs. Part III chs. Here Clark continues his endeavor of reconciling traditional cognitivism with alternative approaches. Despite his critique of purely representational approaches Clark does not want to break entirely with the cognitivist heritage. Philosophically most interesting are chapters 5 and 6 in which Clark tries to defuse some objections against HEC.
Extended mind thesis
Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension Andy Clark Abstract Studies of mind, thought, and reason have tended to marginalize the role of bodily form, real-world action, and environmental backdrop. In recent years, both in philosophy and cognitive science, this tendency has been identified and, increasingly, resisted. Work in this new, loosely-knit field depicts thought and reason as in some way inextricably tied to the details of our gross bodily form, our habits of action and intervention, and the enabling web of social, cultural More Studies of mind, thought, and reason have tended to marginalize the role of bodily form, real-world action, and environmental backdrop. Work in this new, loosely-knit field depicts thought and reason as in some way inextricably tied to the details of our gross bodily form, our habits of action and intervention, and the enabling web of social, cultural, and technological scaffolding in which we live, move, learn, and think.
Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension
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. 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.
Many of these themes run against established wisdom in cognitive processing and representation. According to traditional computational accounts, the function of the mind is understood as the process of creating, storing and updating internal representations of the world, on the basis of which other processes and actions may take place. Representations are updated to correspond with an environment in accordance with the function, goal-state, or desire of the system in question at any given time. Thus, for example, learning a new route through a maze-like building would be mirrored in a change in the representation of that building. Action, on this view, is the outcome of a process which determines the best way to achieve the goal-state or desire, based on current representations. Such a determinative process may be the purview of a Cartesian "central executive" or a distributed process like homuncular decomposition.