Extensive enactivism: why keep it all in?

This open access from Frontiers in Human Neuroscience

Radical enactive and embodied approaches to cognitive science oppose the received view in the sciences of the mind in denying that cognition fundamentally involves contentful mental representation. This paper argues that the fate of representationalism in cognitive science matters significantly to how best to understand the extent of cognition. It seeks to establish that any move away from representationalism toward pure, empirical functionalism fails to provide a substantive “mark of the cognitive” and is bereft of other adequate means for individuating cognitive activity. It also argues that giving proper attention to the way the folk use their psychological concepts requires questioning the legitimacy of commonsense functionalism. In place of extended functionalism—empirical or commonsensical—we promote the fortunes of extensive enactivism, clarifying in which ways it is distinct from notions of extended mind and distributed cognition.



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.