The extended mind
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The Extended Mind. The Extended Mind (1998) by Andy Clark and David Chalmers What are the limits of the mind? Skin and skull? People and their tools? The world? Clark and Chalmer’s proposal -- active externalism An external tool can be part of active cognition

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The Extended Mind

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The extended mind

The Extended Mind


The extended mind

The Extended Mind (1998)

by Andy Clark and David Chalmers

  • What are the limits of the mind?

  • Skin and skull?

  • People and their tools?

  • The world?

  • Clark and Chalmer’s proposal -- active externalism

    An external tool can be part of active cognition

    Objects outside the head can contain some mental states of a subject.

    A person’s mind can extend to bits of the world around him.

Andy Clark and David Chalmers


Tetris

Consider three possibilities in playing a game like Tetris:

Mental rotation of pieces to see if they fit a slot

Pushing a button to make the computer rotate a piece to see if it fits

3)A brain implant that can be

mentally activated by the player

to rotate a piece to see if it fits

1 is a mental process. Is 3? Is 2?

Tetris


Otto and inge

Inge:

  • Wants to go to the Museum of Modern Art

  • Remembers it’s on 53rd Street

  • Goes to 53rd Street

  • Conscious thought “wants to go…”

  • Retrieval of information from memory (i.e. inactive mental state becomes active mental state)

  • Use of retrieved information

Otto and Inge


The extended mind

Otto:

  • Has Alzheimer’s, so can’t remember things well

  • Uses a notebook to record useful information

    • Wants to go to the Museum of Modern Art

    • Checks his notebook, sees that it is on 53rd St.

    • Goes to 53rd St.

      Accessing the information in passively recorded in his notebook is like accessing the information passively recorded in his memory.

      Chalmers and Clark argue that the information in Otto’s notebook is just like the information in Inge’s memory. They are both mental states. The notebook has become part of Otto’s mind.

      Essential details:

      Otto always keeps his notebook with him.

      Otto always checks his notebook automatically when asked a question (or when wondering about a question) that relates to the information in his notebook

      Otto trusts his notebook implicitly (just as much as Inge trusts her memory)


The extended mind

Parity Principle

“If, as we confront some task, a part of the world functions as a process which, were it to go on in the head, we would have no hesitation in accepting as part of the cognitive process, then that part of the world is (for that time) part of the cognitive process.” (Clark and Chalmers (1998))

“Parity” means equality or equivalence.


The extended mind

Claim: an external device (e.g. notebook) can be an extension of a person’s mind, if the following conditions are met:

The external device is almost always accessible (e.g. Otto carries the notebook around with him)

The information is easy to access (e.g. easy to read)

The external device is almost always accessed in relevant situations (e.g. Otto always checks his notebook when thinking about the location of the museum)

  • The person believes in the information contained in the external device as readily and completely as someone believes his own memory (e.g. Otto completely trusts his notebook)


The extended mind

Chalmers’ newer addition to thought experiment: iphone

Chalmers has an iphone that not only functions as memory storage, but also performs mental functions for him such as:

  • manipulation of information

  • decision making

  • calculation

  • memory prompting


Objections

  • “external memory devices” are made of different kinds of stuff

  • “external memory devices” are passive, not active

  • “external memory devices” need to be deliberately accessed

  • “external memory devices” can be tampered with

Objections


Memento

Leonard has anterograde amnesia – can’t make new memories

Relies on notes and tattoos to function as his memory

Does he then have new memories? Are his notes and/or his tattoos part of his mind?

Memento


Suggested readings

Suggested readings

Clark, Andy and Chalmers, David (1998), “The Extended Mind” in Analysis 58, 10-23, available at: http://consc.net/papers/extended.html

Clark, Andy, “Memento’s Revenge: The Extended Mind, Extended”, to appear in R. Menary (ed.) Papers on the Extended Mind, available at: http://www.philosophy.ed.ac.uk/people/clark/pubs/Mementosrevenge2.pdf


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