Presentation on theme: "Summer 2011 Tuesday, 8/9. Clark and Chalmers on the Extended Mind Where does the mind stop and the rest of the world begin? What are C & C asking here?"— Presentation transcript:
Summer 2011 Tuesday, 8/9
Clark and Chalmers on the Extended Mind Where does the mind stop and the rest of the world begin? What are C & C asking here? On one way of looking at things, the answer seems nowhere (our minds can reach anywhere we like in the world!). On another, the question seems very hard to make sense of (the mind and the rest of the world may not be in any sort of competition with one trying to overtake the other!)
Clark and Chalmers on the Extended Mind I bought an iPhone. The iPhone has already taken over some of the central functions of my brain... The iPhone is part of my mind already…In at least some cases the world is not serving as a mere instrument for the mind. Rather, the relevant parts of the world have become parts of my mind. My iPhone is not my tool, or at least it is not wholly my tool. Parts of it have become parts of me... (Chalmers)
Clark and Chalmers on the Extended Mind When parts of the environment are coupled to the brain in the right way, they become parts of the mind. (Chalmers) So maybe the question is: Is there a categorical difference between parts of the mind and parts of the environment or can some parts of the environment be parts of the mind? But then, what does it even mean to say that the mind has parts and that certain parts of the mind are located someplace (e.g. inside or outside the brain)?
Extended Mental Processes C & C invite us to consider: 1.Performing a task – figuring out whether a certain shape fits in a slot – using mental rotation. 2.Performing the same task using physical rotation (by pressing a button). 3.Performing the same task using physical rotation (controlled by a neural implant).
Extended Mental Processes
Parity Principle: If, as we confront some task, a part of the world functions as a process which, were it done in the head, we would have no hesitation in recognizing as part of the cognitive process, then that part of the world is part of the cognitive process. PP gives a sufficient condition for being an extended mental process.
Extended Mental Processes C & C claim that given PP, mental rotation and physical (button/neural-device controlled) rotation both count as parts of a mental/cognitive process. Q1: Is this claim obviously true? What are some cases where the sufficient condition is not met?
Other examples: Rearranging tiles in scrabble Using pen and paper to do long multiplications Using a compass or a nautical slide rule to navigate Typing up ones thoughts while composing an essay Epistemic vs. Pragmatic Actions Extended Mental Processes
Extended Mental States Information vs. Information carrying item (analogous to: Monetary value and monetary- value carrying item, e.g. a coin or a bill) Content-Externalism (very roughly): The thesis that what information a mental state carries is determined by relational (or extrinsic) features of the information carrying item. Active-Externalism: The thesis that the information carrying item may be constituted by elements that extend beyond the body/brain. (notice that such a thesis would be implausible in the money case!)
Extended Mental States Otto and Inga both want to go to the Museum: Inga recalls that the Museum is on 53 rd street, walks to 53 rd street and goes into the Museum. Otto has Alzheimers. He carries a notebook where he writes down important information. He consults the notebook, which says that the Museum is on 53 rd street, so he walks to 53 rd street and goes into the museum.
Extended Mental States Clearly, Otto walked to 53rd Street because he wanted to go to the museum and he believed the museum was on 53rd Street. And just as Inga had her belief even before she consulted her memory, it seems reasonable to say that Otto believed the museum was on 53rd Street even before consulting his notebook. For in relevant respects the cases are entirely analogous: the notebook plays for Otto the same role that memory plays for Inga. The information in the notebook functions just like the information constituting an ordinary non-occurrent belief; it just happens that this information lies beyond the skin.
Extended Mental States Some will resist this conclusion. An opponent might put her foot down and insist that as she uses the term "belief", or perhaps even according to standard usage, Otto simply does not qualify as believing that the museum is on 53rd Street. We do not intend to debate what is standard usage; our broader point is that the notion of belief ought to be used so that Otto qualifies as having the belief in question. In all important respects, Otto's case is similar to a standard case of (non-occurrent) belief. The differences between Otto's case and Inga's are striking, but they are superficial. By using the "belief" notion in a wider way, it picks out something more akin to a natural kind. The notion becomes deeper and more unified, and is more useful in explanation.
Extended Mental States To resist C & Cs conclusion, their opponent must show that Ottos and Ingas cases differ in some deep and relevant respect. Q: Is there any principled reason for distinguishing what Otto keeps in his notebook from what Inga keeps in her head.
Quiz What is C & Cs extended mind thesis? Give an example of one process and one state that C & C would claim extends beyond the boundaries of the skin & skull.