Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Who Supports Revolutionary EC 8?

So, Sutton, et al. have (probably) never denied that cognitive processes take place in the brain:
“We are entirely happy to treat study of ‘the kinds of processes that take place in the brain’ as scientifically valid, and to accept intracranial cognition: we have never argued otherwise, and nor to our knowledge has Clark.”
But, there is a fairly robust group of 4EA type philosophers who have.  This includes Haugeland, Hurley, Menary, Rowlands, and Thompson.  In particular, Clark has, at least at times, rejected intracranial cognition.  Here is one point.
“I’d encountered the idea that we were all cyborgs once or twice before, but usually in writings on gender or in postmodernist (or post postmodernist) studies of text. What struck me in July 1997 was that this kind of story was the literal and scientific truth. The human mind, if it is to be the physical organ of human reason, simply cannot be seen as bound and restricted by the biological skinbag. In fact, it has never been thus restricted and bound, at least not since the first meaningful words were uttered on some ancestral plain. But this ancient seepage has been gathering momentum with the ad-vent of texts, PCs, co evolving software agents, and user-adaptive home and office devices. The mind is just less and less in the head.”  Clark, Natural Born Cyborgs, p. 4
Now, I know that in Supersizing Clark has been happy to talk about a "cognitive core",  but here is a case where he appears to deny this. It's probably possible to read this as not denying intracranial cognition (it's hard to really pin an unwanted view on a philosopher), but then again it is also plausible to read this as denying intracranial cognition. 


  1. Hi Ken, I've been flat out with other stuff but I did respond to your batch of quotations on the other site. Here I don't seem able to paste what I said quickly there, so until I get time to respond here can I please point you to that comment at
    For example, in the quote from Clark 2003 p.4 in this post, I really don't see where or how you'd read in a denial of intracranial cognition. Clark is arguing not that there has been *no* intracranial cognition since we started speaking, but that since then not *all* cognition has been intracranial. Saying that the mind is less and less in the head is clearly not the same as saying that it is never in the head. EC theorists want (I hope and trust) to point attention to individual, contextual, and cultural differences in the nature, frequency, and extent of extendedness.

  2. Hi, John,

    I'll go over to Gary's blog. I (of course) don't read that as regularly as I keep up with my own.