Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cognition versus Behavior According to Menary

In "Cognitive Integration and the Extended Mind," Menary writes,
This second wave of arguments also takes a more enactive approach to cognition, seeing it as constituted by our bodily activities in the world in conjunction with neural processes and vehicles (Menary, 2010, p. 227).

So, if cognition is constituted by bodily activities in the world in conjunction with neural processes and vehicles, then how is this different from behavior?  After all, think about how Skinner describes behavior in the introduction to Verbal Behavior,
MEN ACT upon the world, and change it, and are changed in turn by the consequences of their action. Certain processes, which the human organism shares with other species, alter behavior so that it achieves a safer and more useful interchange with a particular environment. When appropriate behavior has been established, its consequences work through similar processes to keep it in force. If by chance the environment changes, old forms of behavior disappear, while new consequences build new forms.
     Behavior alters the environment through mechanical action, and its properties or dimensions are often related in a simple way to the effects produced. When a man walks toward an object, he usually finds himself closer to it; if he reaches for it, physical contact is likely to follow; and if he grasps and lifts it, or pushes or pulls it, the object frequently changes position in appropriate directions. All this follows from simple geometrical and mechanical principles. (Skinner, 1957, p. 1)

Surely Menary has options here, but which one does he take? If by "cognition" Menary just means behavior, then I'm for that kind of extended cognition.  How could there no be extended hammering behavior?  Hammering behavior has to include arms and a hammer, right?

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