The extended mind: a case of mental vehicular negligence
LE3 .A278 2018
Wilks, Anna Frammartino
Bachelor of Arts
In 1998 a thought experiment made a splash in the philosophy of mind. Its objective was to demonstrate that the mind is not all in the head. The mind can be extended when certain conditions obtain between thinker and environment. Typically, the sufficient condition is functional similarity between what goes on in the head, and what goes on beyond the head. Take notebooks, for example. They can be used to record information that represents beliefs, thoughts, or desires that are normally contained by the brain. The intuition is that if some external object plays a role in some process that, if done in the head, we would consider a mental process, then that object is a part of the mind, location notwithstanding. But without the de facto boundaries of the skin and skull, what is the new limit to the extension of the mind? Functional similarity is sufficient to get the mind out of the head, but it is silent as to where exactly to redraw the line of the mind. Limiting conditions are needed because if, for example, a notebook is sufficiently similar so as to count as a part of your mind, then would the Yellowpages count too, just because you used them to order pizza? In the quest for new limits on the mind I look to such places as proper parts theory and dynamical systems theory, but ultimately find no new mental boundaries. I conclude by considering a few of the many absurd consequences admitting the possibility of extended minds has for the notions of selfhood and personal identity.
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