Tuesday, September 7, 2010

EC: Wild or Mild?

A while back, Gary Williams was proposing that we should understand EC as something other than a radical claim.  I'm sure that there are non-radical elements and takes on EC.  (Indeed, as I have posted before, I think that edgy ambiguity is almost a modus vivendi of EC.)  For example, it is not radical to claim that the body and environment play an important role in the life of the mind.  If that's all one wants out of extended cognition, then to my mind everyone but Leibniz and a few of his sympaticos is on board.

Do you like your EC mild or wild?

But, there are those who do intend to have EC be a radical claim.  Wilson is one of them:
Locational externalism, environmentalism, and the extended mind thesis are radical forms of externalism in at least two ways. First, they do not rest on claims and intuitions about whether the content of a pair of states of two individuals in different environments (or one individual in two such environments over time) is the same or different, about how particular intentional states are taxonomized, or about the role of the physical or social environments in individuating such states. Instead, they appeal to the nature of psychological processing, to the arbitrariness of the head (or the skin) for bounding cognitive systems, and to what happens in real-life, online cognitive activity in the world. Thus, if the extended mind thesis is true, it is true in virtue of something implementationally deep about cognition, rather than some debatable view of mental content. Second, locational externalism is not simply a view of how we "talk about" or view cognition and the mind-about the epistemology of the mind, one might say-but about what cognition and the mind are-about the ontology of the mind.  (Wilson, 2010, p. 171).
Wilson, R. "Meaning making and the mind of the externalist".  In Menary, R. (Ed.) The Extended Mind.  Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.  (pp. 167-188).

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