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Extended cognition and the explosion of knowledge

Penultimate version.

The aim of this article is to show that externalist accounts of cognition such as Clark and Chalmers’ (1998) “active externalism” lead to an explosion of knowledge that is caused by online resources such as Wikipedia and Google. I argue that externalist accounts of cognition imply that subjects who integrate mobile Internet access in their cognitive routines have millions of standing beliefs on unexpected issues such as the birth dates of Moroccan politicians or the geographical coordinates of villages in southern Indonesia. Although many externalists propose criteria for the bounds of cognition that are designed to avoid this explosion of knowledge, I argue that these criteria are flawed and that active externalism has to accept that information resources such as Wikipedia and Google constitute extended cognitive processes.

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Critical neuroscience and socially extended minds

Another paper by Shaun this time coauthored with Jan Slaby (check out Jan’s website – lot’s of good stuff here). 

The concept of a socially extended mind suggests that our cognitive processes are extended not simply by the various tools and technologies we use, but by other minds in our intersubjective interactions, and more systematically by institutions that, like tools and technologies, enable and sometimes constitute our cognitive processes. In this paper we explore the potential of this concept to facilitate the development of a critical neuroscience. We first explicate the concept of cognitive institution and show how it builds on a more enactive version of the extended mind. We then turn to the idea that science itself is a good example of a cognitive institution that through various practices and rules shapes our cognitive activity so as to constitute a certain type of knowledge, packaged with relevant skills and techniques. Building on this idea, we focus on neuroscience, its cultural impact, and the various institutional entanglements that complicate its influence on reframing conceptions of self and subjectivity, and defining what questions count as important and what kind of answers will be valued. Our intent is to show that by understanding neuroscience as a cognitive institution – that is, as a set of practices that help us to think and solve problems within a specific domain – we gain a critical perspective on what neuroscience accomplishes.

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Some recent “Extended Mind” papers

Blow Your Mind

Extended mind and after: socially extended mind and actor-network
by Kono, Tetsuya
Integrative Psychological & Behavioral Science

Personal Identity, Functionalism and the Extended Mind
by Stanciu, Marius M
Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences

Minds as social institutions
by Castelfranchi, Cristiano
Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

Extended cognition and the explosion of knowledge
by Ludwig, David
Philosophical Psychology

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How Things Shape the Mind: A Theory of Material Engagement

Here’s a just published review in JMB, endorsed by some heavy hitters such as Edwin Hutchins and Kevin Warwick.

How Things Shape the Mind: A Theory of Material Engagement represents a synthesis of the positions that the author, Lambros Malafouris, has developed over the course of his career, supplemented by the addition of new explanatory examples and unpublished chapters. The main objective of the book is to provide a unitary account of material engagement theory, the actual keystone that binds the multiple streams of argument presented by the author in his previous works. The book is organized in three main sections, which respectively take into account epistemological aspects, theoretical tenets, and empirical applications of material engagement theory.

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