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Review of The Extended Mind. Richard Menary (ed). MIT Press. 2010.

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Review of The Extended Mind. Richard Menary (ed). MIT Press. 2010.
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  BOOK REVIEW The Extended Mind E DITED BY R ICHARD M ENARY MIT P RESS , 2010 VIII þ 382 PP . £ 29 . 95 CLOTH The Extended Mind Hypothesis (EMH) made its public debut in the pages of  Analysis in 1988, with the appearance of a landmark paper by Clark and Chalmers. Theyadvanced the bold claim that some cognitive processing has an extent that is beyondthe boundaries of the skin or the skull. Their claim differs from the still much disputedidea that the content of mental states must be individuated, at least in part, by externalfactors. With a different focus, the srcinators of EMH defend active externalism – theview which holds that the underlying cognitive processes that make certain mentalhappenings possible are, at least sometimes, not entirely brainbound. This kindof wide ranging cognition allegedly occurs when the use of external resources isunavoidable for enabling the completion of specific cognitive tasks.When first presenting this proposal, Clark and Chalmers cooked up the nowfamous thought experiment involving the mildly absent-minded Otto and his mentallysharper compatriot Inga. Both wish to visit the Museum of Modern Art. But only Ingacan readily and reliably recall that it is on 11th West and 53rd Street. She remembersthis unaided, using nothing but her biological memory. Otto, by contrast, needs a littleoutside, extra help. By consulting his trusted notebook he too manages to acquire thecorrect belief. Both characters achieve the same psychological result; both arrive at abelief about the location of MoMA. But they achieve this by quite different means.The supporting activity that makes it possible for Otto to come by that belief extendsbeyond the boundaries of his body. Defenders of EMH hold, that in this case, anessential part of the cognitive process is external to the organismic brain and body.They argue that when certain specified criteria are met the active cognitive processesupon which the mind supervenes extend into the wider environment.Many deny that cognitive processes, and thus minds, have wide extent in suchcases. Anticipating one source of doubt, and in an early bid to quell it, Clark andChalmers proposed that we should operate with a parity principle. Accordingly, thetrue test is that if the manipulation of the resources in question were to occur entirelywithin the bounds of the subject’s head and we would not hesitate to class theprocesses involved as cognitive then we should not reasonably withhold that sameverdict in cases where the resources in question are externally based. Any denial of thevery idea of extended minds based only on putative fact that cognitive processes must  be in the head is, in light of this principle, exposed as nothing more than an unfoundedprejudice.That was state of the art over a decade ago. Since then there has been an extendeddebate about EMH. Over the course of it, central claims have been adjusted andrefined, new arguments for and against EMH have been developed, and possible Analysis Reviews Vol 0 | Number 0 | 2011 | pp. 1–3 doi:10.1093/analys/anr063 ß The Author 2011. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of  The Analysis Trust  .All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com   Analysis Advance Access published June 7, 2011  applications to other domains and topics have been explored. There are too many of these to describe adequately in this short review. Suffice to say that The Extended Mind  is the definitive collection of essays on this topic. It reprints the classic paperwhich started it all and brings together all of the major voices in this debate in oneplace. More than this, it manages to do this – despite the editor’s own leanings – in atruly even-handed and balanced way. Examining the book’s exchanges betweenAdams, Aizawa and Rupert, on the one hand, and those of Clark, Hurley, Menaryand Wheeler, on the other, it becomes clear both what the driving assumptions of both the critics and defenders of EMH really are – and what is really at stake in thesediscussions. Other concerns, e.g. from the perspectives of epistemology (Preston) andphilosophy of science (Ross and Ladyman) are also provided. There is even somehealthy scepticism that the entire discussion of EMH is wrongly framed. Thus Rossand Ladyman remark, ‘To talk of the location of the mind is simply to resort tometaphor. We don’t object to using metaphors, but we do object to arguing aboutwhose metaphors are literally true’ (p.156).For those who take the debate seriously, the most commonly voiced and possiblythe strongest objection is that the arguments of proponents of EMH fail because theydo not distinguish between what is merely causally required to support mind andcognition and that which is properly constitutive of mind and cognition. All parties inthe debate admit that, at least in some cases, a subject’s state of mind depends on theirclose coupling with and the manipulation of external resources that enables themto complete a cognitive task. However, many deny the exciting conclusion thatproponents of EMH advocate. Specifically, critics of EMH deny that it followsfrom the fact that mentality causally (and hence explanatorily) supervenes on theuse of extra-bodily resources in some cases that in those cases the resources therebyform part of – i.e. partially constitute – the larger system that does the cognizing.What the contributions to this volume ably reveal is that this popular line of argument requires more support than this if it is to succeed. Pivotally, to draw abright line between what is constitutive of mind and cognition as opposed to whatis merely causally supportive of such in a principled way requires identifying a criter-ion that tells us what is truly mental and cognitive. The only criterion on offer makesexplicit appeal to the notion of non-derived or srcinal mental content, as the paper byAdams and Aizawa reveals. Like Fodor, in his 2009 review of Clark’s 2008 book,they incline to the view that ‘the mark of the mental is its intensionality (with an ‘s’)that’s to say that mental states have content; they are typically about things . . . onlywhat’s literally and unmetaphorically mental has content’.So construed, drawing the causal/constitutive distinction in a respectable,non-question begging way depends on the truth of the claim that non-derived contentis distinctive of mind and cognition. But the truth of that claim apparently depends onthe outcome of other lively debates in cognitive science – i.e. the truth of the repre-sentational theory of mind. If so, the ultimate fate of EMH is still wide open. Readersinterested in knowing what is likely to happen next are advised to take seriously thepleas by Wilson and Sutton, in their chapters, for a more adventurous, new waveapproach to thinking about the EMH.In sum, Menary provides us with an excellent collection. With its clear and usefulintroduction – one that charts not only the arguments of the contributors in detail butshows how the unfolding discussion has evolved – it is the perfect external resource 2 | book review  for those aiming to extend their thinking on these important topics and to take thisfertile debate further.D ANIEL D. H UTTO University of HertfordshireHertfordshire AL10 9AB, UKd.d.hutto@herts.ac.uk References Clark, A. 2008. Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension .Oxford: Oxford University Press.Fodor, J.A. 2009. Where is my mind? London Review of Books . 12 Feb 2009. book review | 3
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