Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sutton: The Mind is not External to the Brain

It rather surprised me when Sutton says this, then proceeds to say that the mind does its best when it is hooked up with external resources.  But, I agree that the mind is not external to the brain and that there is a perfectly good sense in which the mind performs better when using external resources.  (That's what's so great about using tools.)  And I even think it's plausible that humans evolved to be apt tool users and tool adopters.  But, that's not HEC.


  1. Thanks Ken! As you say, these are looser conversations, but right, there's no harm in using them to focus debate. On this point, the editing of the program has distorted things a bit - in reality, one way that the host Alan Saunders actually introduced and sought to define HEC was as the view that the mind is external to the brain. That bit got cut in the editing process, but that's what I was returning to in the comment you mention. Does any HEC theorist think that the mind is external to the brain? No, surely. All HEC theorists think, as I say in that same comment, that the brain is a crucial and unique part of the distributed cognitive system, don't we?

  2. Hi, John.

    Thanks for stopping by. And, thanks for the clarification. I know that we have enough in the way of substantive differences that we don't need mistaken differences.

    I hope you'll come back and comment on the Globe theater post I have today. That one was the one that seems most substantive to me. It goes back, in a way, to my concern that one can have a cognitive system where only one component does cognitive processing. The analogy here is with a computing system.