Rupert interview on extended mind

The VERY excellent Rob Rupert on naturalistic theories of mental content and no surprise – extended mind. Also with Jonno Sutton and Richard Menary sandwiched in between Rob. H/T to Ken Aizawa for the alert. Here is a link to my collection of  “Rupertiana“.


Res cogitans extensa: A Philosophical Defense of the Extended Mind Thesis

Look out for Georg Theiner’s book (publisher, Peter Lang) that is about to hit the shelves. I’m reproducing the cover blurb from the preprint he so kindly sent me. Georg has already done some good work for an Extended Mind project and I’m looking forward to his contribution to the stigmergy issue.

Abstract for Res cogitans extensa: For Descartes, minds were essentially immaterial, non-extended things. Contemporary cognitive science prides itself on having exorcised the Cartesian ghost from the biological machine. However, it remains committed to the Cartesian vision of the mental as something purely inner. Against the idea that the mind resides solely in the brain, advocates of the situated and embodied nature of cognition have long stressed the importance of dynamic brain-body-environment couplings, the opportunistic exploitation of bodily morphology, the strategic performance of epistemically potent actions, the generation and use of external representations, and the cognitive scaffolding provided by artifacts and social-cultural practices. According to the extended mind thesis, a significant portion of human cognition literally extends beyond the brain into the body and its environment. This book aims to clarify the nature and the scope of this thesis, and to defend its central insight that cognition is not confined to the boundaries of the biological individual.

About Georg: Georg Theiner, born in Vienna, received his Ph.D. in Philosophy, with a Joint Ph.D. in Cognitive Science and a Minor in History and Philosophy of Science, at Indiana University, Bloomington in 2008. His research interests are in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science. During his tenure as a Killam Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Alberta, he worked on the extended mind thesis and socially distributed cognition.

Nurturing the Mind: Extended Functionalism, Complementarity and the Deep Blue Sea

Here’s the penultimate draft of the aforementioned paper by Julian Kiverstein and Mirko Farina:

Abstract: Like many other studies, this paper focuses on the ways in which the functional isomorphism between neural and extra-neural features can provide the means to meet the criteria for cognitive extension. However, unlike these other studies, this paper acknowledges the stalemate into which the debate over Extended and Embedded has fallen. While surveying the literature directed at the functionalist version of Extended Mind, we investigate the feasibility of the complementarity approach. By exploring the offshoots of recent studies encompassing developmental niche construction, neural development and nurtured cognitive structures, we attempt to validate this complementarity alternative and in bringing it back to fore thereby escape the apparent impasse.

Andy Clark Interview

Here is an interview conducted by Howard Rheingold, as he says motivated by Andy’s Natural-Born Cyborgs. Note Andy’s reference to stigmergic (swarm) behavior though he doesn’t actually use the term. (Via David Livingstone Smith and Mirko Farina).

Colin Klein Reviews Rob Rupert

Check out the ms of Colin Klein’s critical notice (forthcoming in Journal of Mind and Behavior) of Rob Rupert, something I’ve been trailing for some time.

Mind in Life

I’ve just completed reading Evan Thompson’s Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind, a work which I heartily endorse as the best statement yet of the enactivist theory of mind. I especially like his taking on the philosopher’s zombie and his chapter on Empathy and Enculturation. Last, but by no means least, Thompson has clarified ideas from his now classic collaboration with Varela and Rosch – The Embodied Mind. But never mind my view, check out Dorothée Legrand’s superb critical notice from The Journal of Mind and Behavior.

In Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind, Evan Thompson defends the thesis of a “deep continuity of life and mind” according to which “life and mind share a set of basic organizational properties . . . . Mind is life-like and life is mind-like” (p. 128, also p. ix). On the one hand, Thompson uncovers mind in life, by considering life and explaining how living organisms are organized in a way that involves the biological implementation of properties that are usually attributed to mental states. On the other hand, he roots mind in life by considering the mind and explaining how mental states are anchored to (neuro)biological processes. Following the lead of Merleau–Ponty and his notion of “comportment” (1963, p. 4; see Mind in Life, p. 67), Thompson argues that the notion of autonomous dynamic system can integrate the orders of life and mind, and account for the originality of each order, allowing the understanding that “on the one hand, nature is not pure exteriority, but rather in the case of life has its own interiority and thus resembles mind. On the other hand, mind is not pure interiority, but rather a form of structure of engagement with the world and thus resembles life” (p. 78).

Requests for reprints should be sent to Dorothée Legrand, Centre de Recherche en Epistemologie Appliquee, 32, boulevard Victor, 75015 Paris, France.