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Andrew Brook – Situated cognition and the extended mind hypothesis

September 5, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

To start its 2007/2008 cycle of conferences, the Institut des sciences cognitives of UQAM is pleased to present:

Situated cognition and the extended mind hypothesis.
My BlackBerry and Me : Forever One or Just Friends ?

by Andrew Brook, Chancellor’s Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Institute of Cognitive Science (ICS) at Carleton University, Ottawa.

The conference will take place on Friday, September 28th. Feel free to check our website (http://www.isc.uqam.ca) for more information or to download posters ( http://www.er.uqam.ca/nobel/cogsci2/isc/docs/2007-09-28-Brook.pdf ). This conference will be held in English, from 3pm to 5pm in room DS-1950 (Station: Berri-UQAM, DeSèves building, first floor).

My BlackBerry and Me : Forever One or Just Friends ?

Abstract
The idea that something about cognition lies outside the brain and even the skin is central to a number of significant recent developments in cognitive science and philosophy of mind. Loosely grouped under the label, Œsituated cognition¹, all variants of this view hold that the various contexts of cognition are crucial to it in some way. However, there is a big division over what way. Indeed, there are a number of divisions over what way but the one on which I will focus is whether contexts are just causally linked to cognition or are actually part of cognition, some contexts at any rate. However crucial researchers of the former persuasion take context to be, they do not mess around with the traditional boundary between mind and world. Researchers of the second persuasion do challenge that boundary. They hold that in some respects the mind actually extends beyond the brain and skin, that something outside the body constitutes part of the mind. This idea can take at least three forms :
(i) A claim that there is a normative and therefore a social dimension to mindedness (the normativity of mind hypothesis),
(ii) A claim that semantic or representational content consists of a relationship between representational vehicles and something else (externalism).
(iii) The hypothesis of the extended mind (Clark and Chalmers 1995).
After a short introduction to situated cognition and the normativity view, we will focus on externalism and the extended mind hypothesis. The internet and wireless appliances such as the BlackBerry are an interesting test case, especially for the latter. On a credible view of the boundaries of the mind that we will introduce, we will find nothing supporting the idea that the
mind extends beyond brain or skin.

Biographical Note

Andrew Brook (D.Phil., Oxford) is Chancellor¹s Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Institute of Cognitive Science at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. He is the author of Kant and the Mind (Cambridge 1994) and has written or edited five other books and about 80 papers, chapters, etc. A new book, A Unified Theory of Consciousness, written with Paul Raymont is forthcoming from MIT Press. He is a past-president of the Canadian Philosophical Association.

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