This chapter discusses the flaws of Clark’s extended mind hypothesis. Clark’s hypothesis assumes that the nature of the processes internal to an object has nothing to do with whether that object carries out cognitive processing. The only condition required is that the object is coupled with a cognitive agent and interacts with it in a certain way. In making this tenuous connection, Clark commits the most common mistake extended mind theorists make; alleging that an object becomes cognitive once it is connected to a cognitive agent is a “coupling-constitution fallacy.” From this fallacy, many hastily proceed to the conclusion that the object or process constitutes part of the agent’s cognitive apparatus or cognitive processing.
Bietti L. M. (2010) Can the Mind Be Extended? And How? Review of “Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action and Cognitive Extension” by Andy Clark. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2008. Constructivist Foundations 5(2): 97-99. https://constructivist.info/5/2/097
Upshot: The “Extended Mind Thesis” claims that cognitive processes are situated, embodied and goal-oriented actions that unfold in real world interactions with the immediate environment, cultural tools and other persons. The body and the “outside” world, undoubtedly, have a crucial influence, driving human beings’ cognitive processes. In his book, Andy Clark goes slightly further by claiming that the mind is often extended into the body and the world.
Bogotá J. D. (2022) Why not Both (but also, Neither)? Markov Blankets and the Idea of Enactive-Extended Cognition. Constructivist Foundations 17(3): 233–235. https://cepa.info/7936
Open peer commentary on the article “A Moving Boundary, a Plastic Core: A Contribution to the Third Wave of Extended-Mind Research” by Timotej Prosen. Abstract: I sympathize with Prosen’s conviction in integrating enactivism, the free-energy principle, and the extended-mind hypothesis. However, I show that he uses the concept of “boundary” ambiguously. By disambiguating it, I suggest that we can keep both Markov blankets and operational closure as ways of drawing the boundaries of a cognitive system. Nevertheless, from an enactive perspective, neither of those boundaries is a “cognitive” boundary.
Borghi A. M. & Caruana F. (2015) Embodiment theory. In: Wright J. D. (ed.) International encyclopedia of the social & sciences. Second edition. Volume 7. Elsevier, Amsterdam: 420–426.
Embodied cognition (EC) views propose that cognition is shaped by the kind of body that organisms possess. We give an overview of recent literature on EC, highlighting the differences between stronger and weaker versions of the theory. We also illustrate the debates on the notions of simulation, of representation, and on the role of the motor system for cognition, and we address some of the most important research topics. Future challenges concern the understanding of how abstract concepts and words are represented, and the relationship between EC and other promising approaches, the distributional views of meaning and the extended mind views.
Open peer commentary on the article “A Moving Boundary, a Plastic Core: A Contribution to the Third Wave of Extended-Mind Research” by Timotej Prosen. Abstract: Prosen states that third-wave extended minds should have plastic boundaries. I question the current literature’s focus on locating the boundaries of the mind and discuss whether the current literature falls prey to a metaphysics of domestication. I reassess Prosen’s two desiderata for a third-wave extended mind and argue that third-wave extended mind theories are better off abandoning the “containment metaphor” altogether.
Cappuccio M. L. (2017) Mind-upload: The ultimate challenge to the embodied mind theory. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 16(3): 425–448. https://cepa.info/5725
The ‘Mind-Upload’ hypothesis (MU), a radical version of the Brainin-a-Vat thought experiment, asserts that a whole mind can safely be transferred from a brain to a digital device, after being exactly encoded into substrate independent informational patterns. Prima facie, MU seems the philosophical archenemy of the Embodied Mind theory (EM), which understands embodiment as a necessary and constitutive condition for the existence of a mind and its functions. In truth, whether and why MU and EM are ultimately incompatible is unobvious. This paper, which aims to answer both questions, will not simply confirm that MU and EM actually are incompatible. It will also show the true reason of their incompatibility: while EM implies that a mind’s individual identity is contingent upon the details of its physical constituents, MU presupposes that minds can be relocated from one material vessel to another. A systematic comparison between these conflicting assumptions reveals that the real shortcoming of MU is not the one usually discussed by the philosophical literature: it has nothing to do with MU’s functionalist or computationalist prerequisites, and is only secondarily related to the artificial implementability of consciousness; the real problem is that MU presupposes that minds could still be individuated and numerically identified while being reduced to immaterial formal patterns. EM seems committed to refute this assumption, but does it have sufficient resources to succeed?
Embodied Cognition represents the most important news in cognitive psychology in the last twenty years. The basis of its research program is the idea that cognitive processes depend, mirror, and are influenced by bodily control systems. A whole class of novel perspectives entered into the psychologists’ agenda only after the emergence and success of EC. In the paper we will deal with some of the main topics debated within EC, from the discussion on the role of representation, to the relationship with enactivism, with functionalism and with the extended mind view. Against an interpretation according to which EC is simply an evolution of the classical cognitivist program, we will focus on the aspects that highlight crucial discontinuities with it, suggesting instead that the EC perspective is indebted to previous theoretical traditions such as American pragmatism, ecological psychology and phenomenology. In the present paper we will discuss some of the most important achievements of EC in different areas of experimental research, from the study of affordances to that of the bodily experience, from the investigation on emotions to that on language. Our aim is to force the Italian public, particularly recalcitrant to EC, to critically reflect on the debts to previous traditions. Relevance: The paper reviews embodied theories with a special focus on enactivist approaches.
Colombetti G. (2017) Enactive affectivity, extended. Topoi 36(3): 445–455. https://cepa.info/5681
In this paper I advance an enactive view of affectivity that does not imply that affectivity must stop at the boundaries of the organism. I first review the enactive notion of “sense-making”, and argue that it entails that cognition is inherently affective. Then I review the proposal, advanced by Di Paolo (Topoi 28:9–21, 2009), that the enactive approach allows living systems to “extend”. Drawing out the implications of this proposal, I argue that, if enactivism allows living systems to extend, then it must also allow sense-making, and thus cognition as well as affectivity, to extend – in the specific sense of allowing the physical processes (vehicles) underpinning these phenomena to include, as constitutive parts, non-organic environmental processes. Finally I suggest that enactivism might also allow specific human affective states, such as moods, to extend.
The focus of the book is one of the most neglected among Francisco Varela’s contributions to cognitive sciences: the model of “the conversational unit” (Varela, 1979). The author explores in detail the scientific genealogy of this model, reconstructs and analyses its structure, and presents possible applications in the current research on (the embodied and extended) mind and (social) cognition. She offers this model to contemporary cognitive sciences as a topical and viable double paradigm, able to support concretely the development of a “radical constructivism” approach, not only in their theoretical but also in their heuristic dimension – their way of practicing science.
de Bruin L. & Michael J. (2017) Prediction error minimization: Implications for embodied cognition and the extended mind hypothesis. Brain and Cognition 112: 58–63. https://cepa.info/5567
Over the past few years, the prediction error minimization (PEM) framework has increasingly been gaining ground throughout the cognitive sciences. A key issue dividing proponents of PEM is how we should conceptualize the relation between brain, body and environment. Clark advocates a version of PEM which retains, at least to a certain extent, his prior commitments to Embodied Cognition and to the Extended Mind Hypothesis. Hohwy, by contrast, presents a sustained argument that PEM actually rules out at least some versions of Embodied and Extended cognition. The aim of this paper is to facilitate a constructive debate between these two competing alternatives by explicating the different theoretical motivations underlying them, and by homing in on the relevant issues that may help to adjudicate between them.