Extended mind thesis

The Extended Mind, wikipedia

One interesting way that this works has been called cognitive offloading (Clark 1997: 94 referring to the tendency of human beings to make use of their environments in order to facilitate cognitive operations. A simple example would be the use of pen and paper for performing mathematical calculations. Another would be the computer game tetris, in which the player has to rotate differently shaped blocks so that they would fit closely together at the bottom of the playing field. By observing people playing Tetris, or by trying it yourself, it becomes immediately clear that in order to find a suitable place for the blocks, the players start rotating them the moment they appear. If one tries playing Tetris so that one has to find the place for the block only in one's own mind before the block can be rotated, this turns out to be much more difficult than rotating them in real-time, and as the pace. Turning the blocks in real time, that is, making active use of the environment offloads into the world some of the cognitive resources required for finding a suitable place for the block — these are "actions whose purpose is to reduce inner computational effort" (Clark. Thus cognition is not something that only takes place "in the head nor something that goes on within the whole body, but is rather a relational field of activity that freely crosses the external boundaries of both brain and body: "cognition as forever leaking out.

It is an elementary fact that most of us are entirely unaware of the total structure of the language that we speak; language as formally described by a bystander is not the language of first-hand experience. For a particular individual, they themselves and their world is permeated by language, for which reason language cannot be literally neither objective nor subjective — it cannot be simply placed at one or the other side of a morphological line of demarcation; rather, it resides. The same pertains to all the other cultural phenomena when observed from the perspective of particular individuals. Hallowell notes that Since culture can be objectively described and for certain purposes treated as if it were a sui generis phenomenon, it is sometimes implied, or even argued, that it is in fact phenomenologically autonomous. To do so is to misunderstand totally the basic conditions of human psychological adjustment. Any inner-outer dichotomy, with the human skin as a boundary, is psychologically irrelevant. For these reasons, the organism and its milieu must be considered together, a single creature-environment interaction being a convenient short unit for psychology. (Hallowell 1955: 88) The final brief example of the idea of "extended organism" is derived from the "extended mind" hypothesis in contemporary philosophy of mind (Clark and Chalmers 1998). Here the emphasis is on processes of perception and cognition, and on the impossibility of reducing either of them to a merely spatial entity. The argument is that for an organism that is thoroughly enmeshed in its surroundings, cognitive processes freely cross, at least on occasion, over the boundaries of the organism, taking hold of and using for its own purposes parts of the environment that normally reside outside. Moving about in their environments, the perceivers make use of the aspects of the surrounding world that operate in a stable, predictable manner — they employ for their own purposes those things in the environment that can reliably essay support and assist in the activity currently.

extended mind thesis

Thesis, antithesis, synthesis, wikipedia

From all this, dewey and Bentley conclude that life-activity is not anything going on between one thing, the organism, and another thing, the environment, but as life-activity, it is simple event over and across that distinction (not to say separation). Anything that can be entitled to either of these names has first to be located and identified as it is incorporated, engrossed, in life-activity. ( ibid., 323) we can find movements in similar directions from anthropology. In the early 1950s, the anthropologist Alfred Irving Hallowell became engaged with the issue of the self and its behavioural environment. He begins first by making note of a simple observation pertaining to the long tradition of cultural anthropology, namely that there is a general tendency of collecting data and constructing explanations about the different generalised, abstracted and supra-individual "ways of life" that are perceived. In other words, anthropology has tended to be culture-centred rather than behaviour- or practice-centred. The anthropologist, taking up a position as an external observer, paper picks out from the observed behaviours precisely these elements that, for him or her, comprise a culture as such as a whole, and thus pays little attention to how the members of that culture act. From this perspective however, hallowell claims, it is very difficult, or perhaps even impossible to comprehend the most significant and relevant aspects of people's lives as they themselves experience them, what they think about and what motivates them to act. Thus, for example, language described in formal categories is not language as it exists for particular individuals, as they experience and use.

extended mind thesis

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Attempting to overcome this perceived hegemony of the skin, dewey and the Bentley reach conclusions rather similar to those of Angyal. Knowing and the Known, published in 1949, they write: "Organisms do not live without air and water, nor without food ingestion and radiation. They live, that is, as much in processes across and "through" skins as in processes "within" skins" (Dewey and Bentley 1949: 128). Instead of depicting the environment as everything that merely happens to surround the organism, it should be imagined rather as a channel or riverbed along which the organisms move and that carries them forward. Organisms do not live in environments; they live with or through their environments. From this perspective, it would be more accurate for the order of things to place that entire medium of life, the entire environment through which life processes proceed, be it oxygen, nutrients, vehicles or state institutions, directly within the life processes themselves. To think of these things as merely parts of the physical surroundings of an organism is misleading, as life goes on criss-crossing through them. For Dewey, the sentence "organism is in an environment" is equal to the statement "the fire is in the wood or in the oxygen" — in a sense, it may visually appear to be so, but it will entirely disregard the fact that combustion.

Natural languages, replete with binary oppositions, include among them plenty of those that all seem to follow the skin-based line of demarcation: in these pairs of concepts, one always points to the "inside the other to the "outside and there is no third term that. Examples of such pairs of concepts would be subject(ive) object(ive mental physical; personal public; knowledge reality; mind matter; stimulus reaction; individual social; rational empirical; cognitive behavioural; epistemology ontology, etc. In each case, the first word in the pair indicates the "inside" of the organism, the other the "outside". And as one can see, such pairs of concepts are plentiful and they are widely used, and in all cases the same logic is in operation: these binary oppositions divide the world into two separate parts, one of which remains within the organism, and the. Moreover, the experience that lies at the base of these pairs of concepts and from which such a distinction is derived will usually remain unnoticed. As Bentley notes with his characteristically hostile tone: The philosopher, having no open truck with skin, leaps from essence to essence — from the essential knower to the essentially known. He leaps with never so much as the twitch of an eye-lash to mark that he glimpses anything of significance lying in between. Yet it is simple to show that skin — and indeed skin in its primitive anatomical character — dominates every position the philosopher occupies and every decision he makes.

Extended Metaphor - examples and Definition

extended mind thesis

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

For example, when one starts to learn how to ride a bicycle, the bike will initially be a foreign external object and keeping it upright while riding needs constant effort and attention — that is, initially the bike will be almost entirely heteronomous. But once one has learned how to ride, the bicycle will feel almost like a part of one's own body, and riding it will require very little attention. In this way, riding the bicycle will be completely integrated into one's total life process, becoming part of the organism's autonomy, despite the fact that a bike is, of course, completely separable from the human body. Or we could also imagine a squirrel who keeps its nutrients as fats autobiographies within its own body and as acorns in its den. Although these two sources of food reside one at the other side of the skin, and fats as living tissues probably have more autonomy than a heap of acorns, they both fulfil the same biological function and thus both remain within the squirrel's life process.

In the first part of the 20th century, the philosophers who most systematically criticised the morphological conception of organisms and moved towards a more expansive view were probably john Dewey and Arthur Bentley. In his wonderfully titled paper. The human skin: Philosophy's Last Line of Defense, bentley declares that human skin is the one authentic criterion of the universe which philosophers recognize when they appraise knowledge under their professional rubric, epistemology. If there is a "knower" and if there is a "known if one of these lies apart from the other and if there is a process of "knowing" which involves both, then skin lies somewhere along the line of march, and must be taken into. Such a statement may seem strange at first sight, perhaps far-fetched or merely provocative. But it should be pointed out that in both the professional jargon of philosophers and in everyday language there is an abundance of pairs of concepts that accept and follow the rigid, mutually excluding distinction between organism and environment.

And it was precisely when discussing these topics that the psychologist Andras Angyal came to the conclusion that "the consideration of the organism and environment in morphological terms leads to such logical entanglement that the concepts of organism and environment are made useless for scientific. Consequently, "the body surface is not the boundary of the organism but rather the organism is entirely permeated by the environment which insinuates itself into every part. On the other hand, the organism does not end at the body surface but penetrates into its environment. The realm of events which are influenced by the autonomy of the organism is not limited to the body but extends far beyond. Every process which is a resultant of the interplay of the organismic autonomy and the environmental heteronomy is part of the life process, irrespective of whether it takes place within the body or outside. ( ibid., 97 to replace the morphological conception, Angyal proposes a distinction between two aspects of the total life process, which he called autonomy and heteronomy respectively.


The former Angyal imagined as the organism's independent or self-governed processes, examples of which would be the healing of a wound, reflexes — such as when a cat turns itself around when falling down, thus landing on its feet — and the regulation of body. On the other hand, within this total life process there are things that reach the organism from its surroundings, and as examples we can provide a list corresponding to the one just presented: something sharp cutting the skin, gravity pulling the cat downwards, and air. Thus retaining the body temperature is autonomous, the sharp external object heteronomous, and. Yet despite what might at first appear, this is not a reiteration of the original separation between the organism and its environment, since the organism cannot be completely equated with the autonomous, and the environment entirely with the heteronomous aspect of life processes; furthermore, angyal's. Instead, in different parts and at different times within the life process, the ratio of autonomy and heteronomy is different; Angyal did not consider these two aspects as opposed, but rather claimed that the transition from one to the other is gradual. Whereas during body heat regulation the heteronomous aspect seems predominant (if there were no changes in air temperature, regulating body temperature would be unnecessary putting together a syllogism seems mostly an autonomous process, but in neither case is the organism turned entirely inward or entirely. In addition, the autonomous processes seem, at certain points, to expand and extend outside, continuously absorbing more and different things, thus turning things that were formerly independent of the organism into its own autonomous parts.

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Here we see that tree we can move from phenomena that everybody would presumably treat as part of the environment, to what everybody would presumably treat as part of the organism, while it is difficult to indicate exactly at what point the transition from one. The problem that makes researchers develop such ideas is the necessity for providing clear definitions, for delineating the units of research, or the elements that one should pay attention to during the research. They are attempting to provide new answers to some of the most basic and primary questions in all research: what precisely is it that we are studying? How to distinguish and define it? What to include and what to exclude? And all of the writers on the topic of the "extended organism" are unsatisfied with the general principle that the organism is separated from its environment by a will concrete physical boundary or barrier between the two, so that the organism would be "inside" and the. In what follows, all the researchers are characterised by their abandonment of the so-called "morphological conception" of organisms (Palmer 2004: 321 that is, the idea that in order to outline an organism as a unit of research, it is sufficient to indicate some particular part. They deny that a particular physical structure in space can function as a generally applicable boundary that will precisely structure and oppose to each other the two halves, the organism and the environment. Instead, they seek functionalist solutions, arguing that in studying organismic functioning, the morphological line of demarcation will frequently become irrelevant.

extended mind thesis

Already in 1910, the now largely forgotten political philosopher and sociologist Arthur Bentley wrote that however spatially isolated the individual appears at a crude glance, the more minutely he is examined, the more are his boundary lines found to melt into those of his environment. Similar ideas were expressed by the biologist Francis Sumner some ten years later: If I should ask you whether the nest of a bird constituted a part of the organism or a part of its environment, i presume that everyone present would resent the question. The situation becomes somewhat essay less clear, perhaps, when we consider the calcareous tube of a marine annelid. Here is something which is definitely secreted by the epidermal cells of the organism, and which forms a sort of permanent integument. It does not, however, in this case retain any organic connection with the body of the worm. But when we pass to the shell of the mollusc we find that there is such an organic connection with the body, so that the animal cannot be dislodged without extensive injury to its living tissues. Does such a shell belong to the organism or its environment?

same "external" object can,. In its widest possible sense. A man's Self is the sum total of all that he can call his, not only his body and his psychic powers, but his clothes and his house, his wife and children, his ancestors and friends, his reputation and his works, his lands and horses. ( ibid., 291, emphasis in the original) "We see then that we are dealing with a fluctuating material james concludes ( ibid., 291). Similar thoughts were expressed only a few years earlier by Ernst Mach in his "Analysis of Sensations As soon as we have perceived that the supposed unities "body" and "ego" are only makeshifts, designed for provisional orientation and for definite practical ends. We find ourselves obliged, in many more advanced scientific investigations, to abandon them as insufficient and inappropriate. The ego is not sharply marked off, its limits are very indefinite and arbitrarily displaceable. Yet undoubtedly the concept of the "self let alone the "ego especially in their late 19th century variations, are vague and undefined, so that we cannot, with any sort of confidence, assert that organisms themselves can be thought as "extended as reaching beyond their epidermic. For more in-depth arguments, we must proceed to the 20th century.

We may begin with a series of early questions posed about the nature of the self or the ego, presented by the pragmatist philosopher William James. Let us ask, together with him, a series of simple questions, such as: what is our relationship to our clothes — is it to mere external objects forced upon us by tedious cultural traditions to cover our shameful nakedness? Or do we reviews instead treat them as important parts of ourselves, so that we would rather prefer to have elegant looks in nice clothes, rather than a beautiful body dressed in rags? Or having accomplished something with our own hands and spent a lot of effort on it, pouring all of our skill and energy into it, what would we feel if we were to suddenly lose it? Will we be emotionless and calm, because, after all, nothing part of ourselves was lost? Or will we perhaps feel our very selves shrink and pale, as if a part of ourselves was lost or destroyed? Already these simple questions indicate that the extent of our material body does not coincide with our feelings of what we are as subjects, as selves, as psychic beings. Furthermore: what about our bodies — "are they simply ours, or are they us?" (James 1890: 291). The moment we begin contemplating these exceedingly simple questions, it will be easy to reach the conclusion that "between what a man calls me and what he simply calls mine the line is difficult to draw" ( ibid., 291).

To know About Extended Warranties

Early in 2009, a book titled. Mapping the future of biology was published, covering those key topics in biology that are bound to come under closer scrutiny in the near future. The authors consider the concept of "organism" to be one of these important topics, which according to them is "a sort of blind spot in today's biology, since only few explicit definitions of this concept are available" (Barberousse et al 2009: 2). In their introduction to the book, the authors note that the concept of an organism suitable for future biology "should be defined via its activity, namely via biological interactions, and not via its visible borders, like membranes, skin, etc." ( ibid., 8). But a brief glance at history shows that the conception of living beings that does not close them off from the environment but rather perceives them as relational, interactive or even extending to the environment is relatively old, having frequently propped up during the 20th. This brief paper resume mostly surveys earlier examples of the conception of "extended organism" that may be summarised briefly as "organisms are not limited by their skins". With respect to the concept of the "extended organism something was "in the air" already in the last decades of the 19th century.


extended mind thesis
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  4. James Helgeson gave a talk on mémoires de papier, interiority and the. Through some close readings of early modern (primarily sixteenth-century French) texts,.

  5. Dr michael bruno s web site. This is roughly the. Em is not mere broad psychology, that content and function of biologically identical beings differ due to history. A faculty member may be assigned to multiple sections of thesis and/or dissertation, Where credit values are variable, and/or when also assigned to a section.

  6. On the latter, i wrote my ma thesis in philosophy of education on the implications of one perspective on mind (the, extended, mind thesis ) for our understanding of knowledge and its assessment. In Clark chalmers 1998 paper in Analysis introducing the extended mind thesis, they have a footnote which reads: Authors are listed in order of degree of belief in the central thesis. The, extended, conscious, mind, 2013.

  7. 6.3 Embodied cognition and the extended mind thesis. 6.4 Agency, the self, and subjectivity. The article begins with an examination of the term real distinction and of Descartes probable motivations for maintaining his dualist thesis. Clark and Chalmers summarise the functionalist extended mind thesis as follows: to reiterate, according to the morphological conception, organisms can be defined as separate, spatial, skin-bounded entities.

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