30 Nov 2012

Pt1.Ch1.Sb1 Somers-Hall’s Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation. ‘Introduction.’ summary

 

by Corry Shores
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[Note: All boldface and underlining is my own. It is intended for skimming purposes. Bracketed comments are also my own explanations or interpretations.]

 

Henry Somers-Hall

 

Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation.

Dialectics of Negation and Difference

 

Part 1: The problem of Representation


Chapter 1: Deleuze and Transcendental Empiricism


Subdivision 1: Introduction

 

Brief Summary: Henry Somers-Hall gives a preview of chapter one and part one, which will focus on Kant, Aristotle and Russsel and on Deleuze’s transcendental empiricism.

 

Summary


The first part of this book will examine the nature and limitations of representation, with a focus on Kant, Aristotle and Russsel. He will “outline the aporias that develop immanently from the formulation of a representational account of our relation to the world”. (11) For both Hegel and Deleuze, “these aporias are endemic in the history of philosophy and that they can only be overcome by a fundamental change in our approach to philosophical enquiry.” (11) This first section on a whole will give “an account of the impetus behind both philosophers' attempts to move beyond (finite) representation and to have shown that this impetus develops as a response to real philosophical problems”. (11)


Chapter one will explain Deleuze’s transcendental empiricism and its place in post-Kantianism:

The radical difference between Deleuze's system and those of the post-Kantians who precede him is the attempt to construct a theory of the transcendental that maintains the differentiated structure of the transcendental field while removing the subject as the synthesizing agent. (11)

In Kant’s system however, the subject (the transcendental unity of apperception) “is the center of a synthesis that produces the empirical world for the empirical subject”. (12)

For Kant, the categories provide the form of the empirical world, and judgment provides the form of our knowledge of the empirical world . Deleuze will argue that, traditionally, transcendental philosophy has been founded on this claim that "the conditions of the real object of knowledge must be the same as the conditions of knowledge" (LS, 105 ).

[The conditions for the synthetic unity of empirically given objects is the same as the conditions for knowing such objects. Those conditions perhaps are the synthetic unity of the subject who both empirically synthesizes phenomenal data in accordance with the concepts in his understanding, and also another condition might be the synthetic coherence in both the empirical world and in our body of concepts which allows the one to correspond to the other.]

The thesis of the identity of conditions allows us to explain our ability to make statements about the nature of the world, since the synthesis of the empirical world is now a function of the subject, and secures a direct correspondence between the structure of knowledge and the structure of the world. (12)

{Footnote 1 here explains that we are following Henry Allison’s conception of Kant’s transcendental idealism, which posits “two radically district epistemic relations to objects, neither of which is ontologically distinct” (qting Allison’s Kant’s Transcendental Idealism). This being radically distinct in an epistemic sense without being ontologically distinct mirrors Deleuze’s “own ontology to the extent that the virtual and the actual are differences in kind generated merely by differences in degree.” (247-248)}

[So the synthetic unity of the subject allows for the synthetic unity both within the realm of concepts and within the domain of empirical givenness, and as well the synthetic unity of the subject allows for the coherent correspondence between empirical objects and concepts.] If the synthesis of the world were not in the subject, then it must be found outside it. But the ways of doing this produce difficult problems, which is why Kant created his transcendental idealism. The synthetic unity of the subject explains how “the predicates that we use to describe the world correspond to the properties of the object within the world itself.” (12) Without this conjoining factor, we would need some other way to explain the correspondence. {ft.2 supports this with a Heidegger quotation.} There are two apparent ways to do this. One is “through a metaphysics of essences and preestablished harmonies, returning to the notion of God as guarantor of the isomorphism of the two structures” and the other way is “through the rejection of essences and metaphysics and a move toward a raw empiricism” (12) [Recall how synthetic a priori propositions have a predicate that is not contained in the subject (making it synthetic), and its justification does not rely upon experience (making it a priori). One example of a synthetic a priori proposition is: 5 + 7 = 12. It might seem that implied in the terms on one side of the equation are the terms on the other side. But the definition of 12 is not 5 + 7. It requires a conceptual synthesis to get from 5 + 7 to 12. Consider another tricky example, this time of a purely analytic statement: ‘all bodies are extended’. A body cannot be properly defined without mentioning that it takes up space. However, the number ‘12’ certainly can be adequately defined without mentioning 5 + 7.] If we take up either of the two ways of explaining the correspondence between concepts and the world, we encounter problems when considering synthetic a priori propositions. The first way presupposes a benevolent God who will guarantee the correspondence [hence the synthetic element is not adequately grounded], and the second way’s empiricist skepticism puts synthetic a priori propositions out of play [by eliminated the possibility of them being a priori].

For Deleuze, the difficulty with the debate between the metaphysical thinkers and those of a Kantian persuasion is that, for both, the necessity of an isomorphism between the two structures has been presupposed, whether through the Kantian notion of synthesis, or the metaphysical notion of essence. Deleuze instead will posit a difference in kind between the transcendental and the empirical. (12)

{ft.3 turns to the Allison text again to elaborate on the two different characterizations of the world, and it foreshadows Deleuze’s alternative formulation.}

Thus

Deleuze instead proposes a third alternative, which is that the structure of the transcendental field is different in kind from the empirical. The implications of this approach would be that the transcendental field would become entirely preindividual, but still differentiated, removing the subject | from the role of synthesizing agent, and thus splitting the conditions of knowledge of the object, in the sense that our knowledge of the object is understood propositionally, or in terms of the structure of judgment, from the conditions of the object, which will now be given by what Deleuze calls a subrepresentational transcendental field. This will mean that while conditions of the object will be formulated in terms of the difference between the transcendental and empirical, conditions for knowledge of the object will be formulated in terms of a structural identity between the constituted object and judgment. (12-13)

[Somers-Hall will explain all this in more detail in the first chapter.] He continues:

Knowledge of the object requires in excess of the conditions of the object a further set of conditions-an isomorphism between judgment, as subject-predicate based, and the object, as substance-property based. It is in this sense that Deleuze's rejection of the identity of conditions of objects and conditions of knowledge of objects is to be understood. For Deleuze, this difference in kind between the empirical, which is governed by the structure of judgment and the transcendental allows the transcendental to be seen as properly generative. That is, rather than merely conditioning the object, it actually generates the objectival structure of the empirical without itself possessing that structure. (13)

While in this chapter giving a schematic clarification of all this, he will examine relevant sections of Kant’s first critique and  “Sartre's critique of the role of the subject within transcendental philosophy”. (13) Somers-Hall further writes:

This will allow us to see why Deleuze feels the necessity to move to a theory of the virtual and the actual and to highlight what he considers to be the two fundamental misunderstandings of the transcendental field: the "dogmatic confusion between event and essence" and the "empiricist confusion between event and accident" (LS, 54) . I will conclude with some comments about the validity of this Deleuzian deduction of transcendental empiricism, given his reliance on Sartre's notion of the transcendental field, which turns out to be not so different from Kant's conception of the transcendental. By the conclusion of the chapter, we should, therefore, be in a position to understand Deleuze as attempting both to engage with and to overcome the limitations of Kant's philosophy. This will form the groundwork for the comparison of Deleuze's approach with Hegel's similar (at least in respect of the problematic from which their thought arises) project. (13)



Somers-Hall, Henry (2012) Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation. Dialectics of Negation and Difference. Albany: SUNY.

Intro. Somers-Hall’s Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation. summary


by
Corry Shores
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[Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation, Entry Directory]


[Note: All boldface and underlining is my own. It is intended for skimming purposes. Bracketed comments are also my own explanations or interpretations.]


Henry Somers-Hall


Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation.

Dialectics of Negation and Difference


Introduction


Brief summary: Henry Somers-Hall’s book on Deleuze and Hegel will examine their different approaches to the same problematic of finite representation.



Summary


Deleuze avoids ‘the philosophy of identity’ or ‘representation’, which culminates in Hegel’s absolute idealism.

Deleuze argues that Hegel's philosophy completes the philosophy of identity, which can be traced back to Aristotle. (1)

Yet,

the vehemence of his rejection of Hegelian dialectic often occludes the affinities between them. These affinities are not to be found in the results of their investigations, nor in their methods, but rather in the central problems from which their respective philosophies emerge. Both Hegel and Deleuze can be seen as attempting to overcome the limitations of Kantian philosophy, on the one hand, and an abstract and external image of thought, on the other. (1)


This text will not take a historical or analytical approach to the relation between Deleuze and Hegel’s philosophies (1). Rather:

The approach I have taken is to show how both Hegel and Deleuze develop their philosophies from a common problematic, which Deleuze calls finite representation. (2)

Although Deleuze sometimes uses Hegelian terms, this is merely a superficial affinity. Somers-Hall instead will relate the two according to their shared problematic.

A central strand of this book will therefore involve tracing the logical development of the problem of representation and looking at how Hegel and Deleuze take up the work of earlier figures, in order to provide a genetic account of how these concepts develop. (2)

The book’s starting point will be showing “how both Hegel and
Deleuze develop from difficulties in Kant and classical logic”. (2)

But briefly at the outset, ‘finite representation’ in Deleuzian terms

is the problem generated by a logic of discrete multiplicities, that is, a multiplicity made up of elements that remain indifferent to their relations or, at the least, preexist the relations between them. (3)

In Hegel, ‘finite representation’

is characterized not in terms of representation but instead in terms of the finite thought of the understanding. The operation of the finite understanding turns out to be much the same as that of finite representation, however, and just as Deleuze criticizes propositional thinking for instantiating fixed relations between elements in a homogeneous space, Hegel also criticizes the finite understanding of the proposition for the fixity of its parts, replacing it with the speculative proposition. (3)

Somers-Hall will begin by examining Hegel’s treatment of Kant and in particular Hegel’s statement that:

there are two ways of going further [than Kant] . . . : one can go forward or backward. Looked at in the clear light of day, many of our philosophical endeavours are nothing but the ( mistaken) procedure of the older metaphysics, an uncritical thinking on and on, of the kind that anyone can do" (EL, § 4 1 , Add. 1 ) . [Hegel qt, 3]

Deleuze relates himself through Kant through Deleuze’s ‘transcendental empiricism’. To differentiate Deleuze’s approach to Kant from Hegel’s approach, the first chapter will examine Deleuze’s place in post-Kantianism. (3)

For both Hegel and Deleuze, the difficulty with the Kantian project is in large measure its inability to provide genetic explanations. For Hegel, this amounts to a failure to carry through a proper metaphysical deduction of the categories, which can only be remedied by showing how the categories develop out of each other. Thus Hegel moves to a philosophy of what he calls "infinite thought," or "Reason," whereby contradictions inherent in | categories lead not to scepticsm, but instead to further, more adequate categories. Deleuze instead argues that the difficulty is that the categorical system developed by Kant cannot explain the genesis of experience, but only its conditioning. In taking this line, Deleuze posits a fundamental difference between the empirical and the transcendental, which allows us to understand the transcendental as truly generative. (3-4)

Somers-Hall will examine ‘three key points of intersection between Hegel and Deleuze’:

[1] Differential calculus,

[2] the concept of force, and

[3] the structure of the organism (4)

In Hegel’s analysis, the foundations of calculus fall outside the finite categories of mathematics, and “the calculus provides an illustration of the structure of reason as a whole” (4) For Deleuze, calculus draws its power from an “extra-propositional or sub-representational source”. (4) However, Hegel “resolves the problems found in finite representation by moving to a position of infinite representation”, while Deleuze tries “instead to understand representation as grounded in that which is nonrepresentational but still determinable”. (4) Somers-Hall will first see how Deleuze’s and Hegel’s positions are structured, and will afterward see how they relate to one another. Since their approaches are incompatible, “we will also have to look at whether either of these two thinkers has the resources to show the inadequacy of the other's approach” (4) The last chapter will discuss “Hegel and Deleuze's conceptions of the organism, which in both cases are implications of their respective logical positions”. (4)


Somers'-Hall will focus on Hegel’s Science of Logic and Deleuze’s Difference and Representation, because his “concern in this book is the structure of dialectic, in both its Hegelian and its Deleuzian varieties”. (5)


Somer’s-Hall then describes his interpretive approach:

In terms of the interpretations of Deleuze and Hegel themselves, I have tried with Deleuze to provide an interpretation that gives appropriate weight to both the philosophical and scientific sides of his thinking, as it strikes me that his work cannot be understood adequately from either position in its own right. Deleuze's use of science should be seen as providing a further level of determinacy to a metaphysics largely derived from Bergson. In interpreting the work of Hegel, I have argued for an ontological rather than a transcendental interpretation. The ontological reading is closest to that put forward by Deleuze and, I think, is well justified by the text. (5)


Somers-Hall then proceeds to distinguish his work from other similar texts. Unlike other works on Hegel and Deleuze, this book contains “a more sustained engagement” of Hegel’s and Deleuze’s relations to one another.


Also, this book does not have certain flaws found in other works. For example:

 Simon Duffy's The Logic of Expression: Quality, Quantity, and Intensity in Spinoza, Hegel, and Deleuze, does attempt to explicitly engage with the relationship between the philosophies of Hegel and Deleuze, mediated by their interpretations of Spinoza. While it provides many interesting analyses, the work as a whole suffers from a major interpretative error, positioning the axis of division between Hegel and Deleuze along the line of finite/infinite, rather than the propositional/extrapropositional. Thus, Deleuze is taken to use modern mathematical interpretations of the calculus to show the infinite thought of Hegel to be redundant. (6)


The book’s project has three main aims, which correspond to three general divisions in the text. In  chapters:

1 and 2: outline of the problem of representation

3 to 5: outline of Hegel’s and Deleuze’s responses to representation

[Third Section]: comparison of Hegel’s and Deleuze’s philosophies to assess their adequacy

6 and 7: logical questions regarding the one and the many

8: relation of Hegel’s and Deleuze’s approaches to the question of the organism.

I will argue that it is here that the limitations of the Hegelian account finally make themselves felt, with Hegel's philosophy unable to give a positive account of the variation necessary to evolutionary thinking. (6)


More specific summary of the chapters:

Chapter 1 provides “a basic understanding of the structure of Deleuze's philosophy through an exploration of his relation with Kant”. (6d)

Chapter 2 “is about the role of difference in classical theories of logic, thereby expanding the specific worries of chapter 1”. (7)

Chapter 3 “amplifies the critique of Aristotle and Russell from the previous chapter, as well as relating these to difficulties highlighted in the first chapter with the Kantian system.” (7)

Chapter 4 “provides the opening to an analysis of Deleuze's philosophy in terms of modern mathematical complexity theory, followed by a discussion of his theory of depth and its origins in the aesthetics of Merleau-Ponty. Finally, I explore Deleuze's concepts of the problematic and of the proposition.” (7)

Chapter 5 “begins by returning to Kant's first Critique and exploring his interpretation of the concepts of finitude and infinity in relation to discursivity. The aim is to show that, from a Hegelian perspective, Kant presupposes a certain interpretation of these concepts from the outset. I then show how a Hegelian dialectical approach to these ideas offers the possibility of genetic interpretations of them, which show each to be unthinkable | without the other.” (7-8)

Chapter 6 will “relate Hegel and Deleuze by exploring two concrete areas of disagreement between the two thinkers, that is, their interpretations of the differential calculus and the Kantian antinomies.” (8)

Chapter 7 “extends the discussion to Hegel's concepts of force and the understanding, and to the inverted world” and examines “how Deleuze can answer these possible criticisms”. (8)

Chapter 8 will “compare the accounts given by Hegel and Deleuze of the organism in order to show certain inadequacies in Hegel's logic.” (8) “By showing that Hegel's dialectic of the organism is itself implicated by Hegel's logic, I conclude that Hegel's philosophy is unsustainable in the face of important advances in our understanding of the world.” (8)

Somers-Hall, Henry (2012) Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation. Dialectics of Negation and Difference. Albany: SUNY.

Somers-Hall’s Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation. Entry Directory

 

by Corry Shores
[Search Blog Here. Index-tags are found on the bottom of the left column.]

[Central Entry Directory]
[Deleuze Entry Directory]
[Henry Somers-Hall, Entry Directory]

 

Henry Somers-Hall


Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation. Dialectics of Negation and Difference


Introduction


Part 1: The Problem of Representation


Chapter 1: Deleuze and Transcendental Empiricism

Subdivision 1: Introduction

Subdivision 2: Kant and the Critique of Pure Reason

Subdivision 3: Sartre and the Transcendence of the Ego

Subdivision 4: Deleuze and the Logic of Sense

Subdivision 5: Conclusion


Chapter 2: Difference and Identity

Subdivision 1: Introduction

Subdivision 2: Aristotle

Subdivision 3: The Genus and Equivocity in Aristotle

Subdivision 4: Change and the Individual

Subdivision 5: Aquinas

Subdivision 6: Symbolic Logic

Subdivision 7: Preliminary Conclusions

Subdivision 8: Hegel and Aristotle

Subdivision 9: Zeno

Subdivision 10: Conclusion


Part 2: Responses to Representation


Chapter 3: Bergsonism

Subdivision 1: Introduction

Subdivision 2: Bergson’s Account of Kant and Classical Logic

Subdivision 3: Bergson’s Method of Intuition

Subdivision 4: Bergson and the Two Kinds of Multiplicity

Subdivision 5: Conclusion

Subdivision 6: The Structure of Reflection

 

Chapter 4: The Virtual and the Actual

Subdivision 1: Introduction

Subdivision 2: The Two Multiplicities

Subdivision 3: Depth in Deleuze and Merleau-Ponty

Subdivision 4: Deleuze and the Structure of the Problem

Subdivision 5: Bergson on Ravaisson

Subdivision 6: Conclusion



Chapter 5: Infinite Thought

Subdivision 1: Introduction

Subdivision 2: Kant and Hegel

Subdivision 3: The Metaphysical Deduction and Metaphysics

Subdivision 4: From Being to Essence

Subdivision 5: The Essential and the Inessential

Subdivision 6: The Structure of Reflection

Subdivision 7: The Determinations of Reflection

Subdivision 8: The Speculative Position

Subdivision 9: The Concept of Essence in Aristotle and Hegel

Subdivision 10: Conclusion

 

Part 3: Beyond Representation


Chapter 6: Hegel and Deleuze on Ontology and the Calculus

Subdivision 1: Introduction

Subdivision 2: The Calculus

Subdivision 3: Hegel and the Calculus

Subdivision 4: Berkeley and the Foundations of the Calculus

Subdivision 5: Deleuze and the Calculus

Subdivision 6: Hegel and Deleuze

Subdivision 7: The Kantian Antinomies


Chapter 7: Force, Difference, and Opposition

Subdivision 1: Introduction

Subdivision 2: Force and the Understanding

Subdivision 3: The Inverted World

Subdivision 4: Deleuze and the Inverted World

Subdivision 5: The One and the Many

Subdivision 6: Conclusion

 

Chapter 8: Hegel, Deleuze, and the Structure of the Organism

Subdivision 1: Introduction

Subdivision 2: The Philosophy of Nature

Subdivision 3: Hegel and Evolution

Subdivision 4: Hegel’s Account of the Structure of the Organism

Subdivision 5: Hegel, Cuvier, and Comparative Anatomy

Subdivision 6: Deleuze, Geoffroy, and Transcendental Anatomy

Subdivision 7: Teratology and Teleology

Subdivision 8: Contingency in Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature

Subdivision 9: Conclusion

 

Conclusion




Somers-Hall, Henry (2012) Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation. Dialectics of Negation and Difference. Albany: SUNY.

Henry Somers-Hall, Entry Directory


by
Corry Shores
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Entry Directory for

Henry Somers-Hall

Henry Somers-Hall portrait short hair

(Thanks Warwick)


Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation.
Dialectics of Negation and Difference

Entry Directory for his book Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation. Dialectics of Negation and Difference


Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition.
An Edinburgh Philosophical Guide


Entry directory for Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition. An Edinburgh Philosophical Guide



Concrete Rules and Abstract Machines Link to Henry Somers-Hall's Deleuze and Merleau-Ponty: The Aesthetics of Difference.

His Warwick faculty page:

http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/philosophy/people/alumni/henry-somers-hall/

His Manchester Metropolitan University faculty page:

http://www2.hlss.mmu.ac.uk/politics-philosophy/academic-staff/?profileID=145

His publications listed on on the Warwick faculty page:

http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/philosophy/people/alumni/henry-somers-hall/research/


His publications listed on PhilPapers:

http://philpapers.org/s/Henry%20Somers-Hall

Image credits

http://royalholloway.academia.edu/HenrySomersHall

http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/philosophy/people/alumni/henry-somers-hall/

Henry Somers-Hall portrait long hair

(Thanks academia.edu)

23 Nov 2012

Our Future of Difference Precedes Us. Ch.4.4 of Williams' Gilles Deleuze's Philosophy of Time

summary by Corry Shores

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[The following is summary]

 

 

James Williams'



Gilles Deleuze's Philosophy of Time:
A Critical Introduction and Guide



Chapter 4: The third synthesis of time



Part 4: Past and Present as Dimensions of the Future 



Brief summary:


In the third synthesis, the past and present become dimensions of the future, because  the future determines what will return from the past.


Summary


"Just as the move from | the first synthesis to the second involved a change in dimensions, where the present became a dimension of the past, in the third synthesis, present and past become dimensions of the future." (102-103)

In the first synthesis, the living present in a way creates the past and future as dimensions of the present, because it contractively organizes past moments into the present one, and this determines paths in the future as to how we might later make our contractions. In the second synthesis, the pure past dynamically rearranges itself and imposes its influence on the present and makes it pass, and this makes the future undetermined. (103b) In the third synthesis, the future determines what will return from the past. (103c) Deleuze writes: "‘The repetition of the future is the royal one as it subordinates the other two and strips them of their autonomy’ (DRf, 125)." (103d) But the third repetition is not independent of the first two, because they are "necessary dimensions of the future as actor and condition." (103d) And the first two are not completely subordinated, because this is only so when they are dimensions of the future. When they are dimensions of the future, they do not play their founding role. (103-104)

So consider the living present from the perspective of the third synthesis. Any such living present is any present whatever, and it is not situated as a point of origin among the other presents in its assembly. It finds its place in accordance with "a symbolic image of the entirety of time and in relation to an action." (104b) Likewise, the past does not determine the present as the most contracted state of the past, but rather dynamic processes of the past must "be taken all together as the entirety of an ordered time." (104bc)


Williams will offer three ways to help explain this.

1) "we can reflect further on the two concepts that Deleuze uses to express the shift in dimensions"

Deleuze says that in the third synthesis, the actor is 'destined to be erased' (DRf, 125). (104d) "The seriation of the third synthesis erases the hold of the passive syntheses of the first." (105a) Also, because the undetermined in the future is what sets up order of moments, it cannot be that the pure past is doing so. (105a)

Williams then discusses Deleuze's claim that no walk is endogenous. (105b.d) For Deleuze, there are two reasons that every event is new.

a) "the present is an agent erased by the return of pure difference in any event;"

2) "the past is a condition of the future only once pure difference has returned" (106b)

This means that all habitual actions are new. "The past never conditions the future. Every pace taken is new, but it is new for all of the past and for every series synthesised in the present. However hard the struggles to break with or repeat the past in the present, both fail the test of the new, or the eternal return of pure difference." (106b)

We repeat the future in the sense of repeating "the processes of the future, or to reaffirm them a second time in our acts, such that repetition becomes ‘the category of the future’ (DRf, 125)." (106c)


Williams, James. Gilles Deleuze's Philosophy of Time: A Critical Introduction and Guide. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2011.

 

21 Nov 2012

Andy Clark. Natural-Born Cyborgs. Ch2 Pt1 ‘Heavy Metal’


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Andy Clark

Natural-Born Cyborgs:
Minds, Technologies, and the Future of Human Intelligence

Chapter 2:
Technologies to Bond With

Part  1:
Heavy Metal


Brief Summary:

There are certain tools and technologies that we have incorporated so much into our behaviors that we cease noticing them. They have become so much a part of our operations and functioning that they no longer seem like external objects, but instead seem internal to our biological workings and structure. Other technologies that have not integrated so well are opaque, because they are noticeably exterior to ourselves. Our body can extend itself into the transparent technologies that we have assimilated with.



Summary

 

Clark recounts a visit to Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Its underground facilities were sturdily built for the heavier machinery of older technology, like giant mainframe computers, but is now sparsely populated with laptops. There is also stores of old pieces of equipment arranged in compartments like in a hardware store. “What we have here is an elephant’s graveyard of Un-transparent, In-Your-Face Technology.” (Clark 36) What is remarkable about the computing equipment is how foreign it seems to human biology: “Heavy, enormous, almost maximally resistant to easy human use, such technologies ran little risk of blurring the boundaries between machine and human, between biological user and technological tool.” (36)


Clark then goes on to distinguish two types of technology: transparent and opaque technologies.

Opaque technology:

a) An opaque technology “is one that keeps tripping the user up, requires skills and capacities that do not come naturally to the biological organism, and thus remains the focus of attention even during routine problem-solving activity.” (37)
b) ‘Opaque’ does not here mean ‘hard to understand’; rather it means more ‘highly visible in use.’ We may not understand how our hippocampus works, but its workings are transparent to us. However, we can know exactly how our computer works, and still “it keeps crashing and getting in the way of what I want to do.” (37)

c) There is a sharp distinction between user and tool in opaque technologies. And “The user’s ongoing problem is to successfully deploy and control the tool.” (37)


Transparent technology:

a) A transparent technology is “so well fitted to, and integrated with, our own lives, biological capacities, and projects as to become […] almost invisible in use.” (37)

b) There is no sharp contrast between user and tool in transparent technologies.

By contrast, once a technology is transparent, the conscious agent literally | sees through the tool and directly confronts the real problem at hand. The accomplished writer, armed with pen and paper, usually pays no heed to the pen and paper tools while attempting to create an essay or a poem. They have become transparent equipment, tools whose use and functioning have become so deeply dovetailed to the biological system that there is a very real sense in which—while they are up and running—the problemsolving system just is the composite of the biological system and these nonbiological tools. The artist’s sketch pad and the blind person’s cane can come to function as transparent equipment, as may certain well-used and well-integrated items of higher technology, a teenager’s cell phone perhaps. Sports equipment and musical instruments often fall into the same broad category. (37-38, emphases mine)

Although it is not always obvious when a tool has become transparent, certain items are better candidates for opacity or transparency than other are. (38)



Further Discussion:
Merleau-Ponty and the Blind Man’s Cane


Merleau-Ponty also uses the example of the blind man integrating the cane into his motor behaviors. We raise this parallel, because we are interested in the nature of the synthesis involved in extended mind / extended embodiment. For Merleau-Ponty, this is an example of the “extension of the bodily synthesis.” (Merleau-Ponty 176) There is an “organic relationship between subject and world” (176).

The blind man’s stick has ceased to be an object for him, and is no longer perceived for itself; its point has become an area of sensitivity, extending the scope and active radius of touch, and providing a parallel to sight. (165)

To get used to a hat, a car or a stick is to be transplanted into them, or conversely, to incorporate them into the bulk of our own body. (166)

The pressures on the hand and the stick are no longer given; the stick is no longer an object perceived by the blind man, but an instrument with which he perceives. It is a bodily auxiliary, an extension of the bodily synthesis.  (176)

[…] the organic relationship between subject and world, the active transcendence of consciousness, the momentum which carries it into a thing and into a world by means of its organs and instruments. (176)

Recall also Clark’s and Chalmer’s discussion of vision when discussing extended couplings of our perceptual systems.

Our visual systems have evolved to rely on their environment in various ways: they exploit contingent facts about the structure of natural scenes (e.g. Ullman and Richards 1984), for example, and they take advantage of the computational shortcuts afforded by bodily motion and locomotion (e.g. Blake and Yuille, 1992). (Clark and Chalmers 9, boldface mine)

Merleau-Ponty speaks in a similar way. But in this case our vision is like the extension that lets us feel the surfaces of world through seeing.

In the gaze we have at our disposal a natural instrument analogous to the blind man’s stick. The gaze gets more or less from things according to the way in which it questions them, ranges over or dwells on them. To learn to see colours it is to acquire a certain style of seeing, a new use of one’s own body: it is to enrich and recast the body image. (177)

For Merleau-Ponty, the blind man’s use of the stick is an instance not only of him extending his tactile perceptions outside its normal limitations of the perimeter of his body, but it is also what extends him into the world around him. This is a matter both of integrating with the tool, and thereby integrating with the world. This is an assimilative and integrational synthesis. [See this entry for a comparison with Deleuze’s non-assimilative, non-integrational sense of the body.] It seems as well that for Clark (and for Clark’s and Chalmer’s extended mind hypothesis) the process of a tool becoming transparent is a matter of it assimilating into our bodily and cognitive functioning (in the case of thinking tools like calculators). The question we pose is, what is more interesting for an analysis of body-extending enhancement technologies, the process of assimilation where the tool becomes transparent, or instead the initial moment of contact where opacity is at its greatest? Now, why might the latter case be more interesting? Because this is where the body-enhancing extensions originate, in a mechanically operative contact of the greatest synthetic disjunction.




Below are larger selections from the Merleau-Ponty quotes:


The acquisition of habit as a rearrangement and renewal of the corporeal schema presents great difficulties to traditional philosophies, which are always inclined to conceive synthesis as intellectual synthesis. It is quite true that what brings together, in habit, component actions, reactions and ‘stimuli’ is not some external process of association. [ft104] Any mechanistic theory runs up against the fact that the learning process is systematic; the subject does not weld together individual movements and individual stimuli but acquires the power to respond with a certain type of solution to situations of a certain general form. The situations may differ widely from case to case, and the response movements may be entrusted sometimes to one operative organ, [p.164 | p.165] sometimes to another, both situations and responses in the various cases having in common not so much a partial identity of elements as a shared meaning. Must we then see the origin of habit in an act of understanding which organizes the elements only to withdraw subsequently? [ft.105] For example, is it not the case that forming the habit of dancing is discovering, by analysis, the formula of the movement in question, and then reconstructing it on the basis of the ideal outline by the use of previously acquired movements, those of walking and running? But before the formula of the new dance can incorporate certain elements of general motility, it must first have had, as it were, the stamp of movement set upon it. As has often been said, it is the body which ‘catches’ (kapiert) and ‘comprehends’ movement. The acquisition of a habit is indeed the grasping of a significance, but it is the motor grasping of a motor significance. Now what precisely does this mean? A woman may, without any calculation, keep a safe distance between the feather in her hat and things which might break it off. She feels where the feather is just as we feel where our hand is. [ft.106] If I am in the habit of driving a car, I enter a narrow opening and see that I can ‘get through’ without comparing the width of the opening with that of the wings, just as I go through a doorway without checking the width of the doorway against that of my body. [ft.107] The hat and the car have ceased to be objects with a size and volume which is established by comparison with other objects. They have become potentialities of volume, the demand for a certain amount of free space. In the same way the iron gate to the Underground platform, and the road, have become restrictive potentialities and immediately appear passable or impassable for my body with its adjuncts. The blind man’s stick has ceased to be an object for him, and is no longer perceived for itself; its point has become an area of sensitivity, extending the scope and active radius of touch, and providing a parallel to sight. In the exploration of things, the length of the stick does not enter expressly as a middle term: the blind man is rather aware of it through the position of objects [p.165 | p.166] than of the position of objects through it. The position of things is immediately given through the extent of the reach which carries him to it, which comprises besides the arm’s own reach the stick’s range of action. If I want to get used to a stick, I try it by touching a few things with it, and eventually I have it ‘well in hand’, I can see what things are ‘within reach’ or out of reach of my stick. There is no question here of any quick estimate or any comparison between the objective length of the stick and the objective distance away of the goal to be reached. The points in space do not stand out as objective positions in relation to the objective position occupied by our body; they mark, in our vicinity, the varying range of our aims and our gestures. To get used to a hat, a car or a stick is to be transplanted into them, or conversely, to incorporate them into the bulk of our own body. Habit expresses our power of dilating our being-in-the-world, or changing our existence by appropriating fresh instruments. [ft.108] It is possible to know how to type without being able to say where the letters which make the words are to be found on the banks of keys. To know how to type is not, then, to know the place of each letter among the keys, nor even to have acquired a conditioned reflex for each one, which is set in motion by the letter as it comes before our eye. If habit is neither a form of knowledge nor an involuntary action, what then is it? It is knowledge in the hands, which is forthcoming only when bodily effort is made, and cannot be formulated in detachment from that effort. The subject knows where the letters are on the typewriter as we know where one of our limbs is, through a knowledge bred of familiarity which does not give us a position in objective space. The movement of her fingers is not presented to the typist as a path through space which can be described, but merely as a certain adjustment of motility, physiognomically distinguishable from any other. The question is often framed as if the perception of a letter written on paper aroused the representation of the same letter which in turn aroused the representation of the movement needed to strike it on the machine. But [p. 166 | p.167] this is mythological language. When I run my eyes over the text set before me, there do not occur perceptions which stir up representations, but patterns are formed as I look, and these are endowed with a typical or familiar physiognomy. When I sit at my typewriter, a motor space opens up beneath my hands, in which I am about to ‘play’ what I have read. The reading of the word is a modulation of visible space, the performance of the movement is a modulation of manual space, and the whole question is how a cretin physiognomy of ‘visual’ patterns can evoke a certain type of motor response, how each ‘visual’ structure eventually provides itself with its mobile essence without there being any need to spell the word or specify the movement in detail in order to translate one into the other. But this power of habit is no different from the general one which we exercise over our body: if I am ordered to touch my ear or my knee, I move my hand to my ear or my knee by the shortest route, without having to think of the initial position of my hand, or that of my ear, or the path between them. We said earlier that it is the body which ‘understands’ in the acquisition of habit. This way of putting it will appear absurd, if understanding is subsuming a sensedatum under an idea, and if the body is an object. But the phenomenon of habit is just what prompts us to revise our notion of ‘understand’ and our notion of the body. To understand is to experience the harmony between what we aim at and what is given, between the intention and the performance—and the body is our anchorage in a world. When I put my hand to my knee, I experience at every stage of the movement the fulfilment of an intention which was not directed at my knee as an idea or even as an object, but as a present and real part of my living body, that is, finally, as a stage in my perpetual movement towards a world. When the typist performs the necessary movements on the typewriter, these movements are governed by an intention, but the intention does not posit the keys as objective locations. It is literally true that the subject who learns to type incorporates the key-bank space into his bodily space. (164-167)

Just as we saw earlier that motor habit threw light on the particular nature of bodily space, so here habit in general enables us to understand the general synthesis of one’s own body. And, just as the analysis of bodily spatiality foreshadowed that of the unity of one’s own body, so we may extend to all habits what we have said about motor ones. In fact every habit is both motor and perceptual, because it lies, as we have said, between explicit perception and actual movement, in the basic function which sets boundaries to our field of vision and our field of action. Learning to find one’s way among things with a stick, which we gave a little earlier as an example of motor habit, is equally an example of perceptual habit. Once the stick has become a familiar instrument, [p.175 | p.176] the world of feelable things recedes and now begins, not at the outer skin of the hand, but at the end of the stick. One is tempted to say that through the sensations produced by the pressure of the stick on the hand, the blind man builds up the stick along with its various positions, and that the latter then mediate a second order object, the external thing. It would appear in this case that perception is always a reading off from the same sensory data, but constantly accelerated, and operating with ever more attenuated signals. But habit does not consist in interpreting the pressures of the stick on the hand as indications of certain positions of the stick, and these as signs of an external object, since it relieves us of the necessity of doing so. The pressures on the hand and the stick are no longer given; the stick is no longer an object perceived by the blind man, but an instrument with which he perceives. It is a bodily auxiliary, an extension of the bodily synthesis. Correspondingly, the external object is not the geometrized projection or invariant of a set of perspectives, but something towards which the stick leads us and the perspectives of which, according to perceptual evidence are not signs, but aspects. Intellectualism cannot conceive any passage from the perspective to the thing itself, or from sign to significance otherwise than as an interpretation, an apperception, a cognitive intention. According to this view sensory data and perspectives are at each level contents grasped as (aufgefasst als) manifestations of one and the same intelligible core. [ft.9] But this analysis distorts both the sign and the meaning: it separates out, by a process of objectification of both, the sensecontent, which is already ‘pregnant’ with a meaning, and the invariant core, which is not a law but a thing; it conceals the organic relationship between subject and world, the active transcendence of consciousness, the momentum which carries it into a thing and into a world by means of its organs and instruments. The analysis of motor habit as an extension of existence leads on, then, to an analysis of perceptual habit as the coming into possession of a world. Conversely, every perceptual habit [p.176 | p.177] is still a motor habit and here equally the process of grasping a meaning is performed by the body. When a child grows accustomed to distinguishing blue from red, it is observed, that the habit cultivated in relation to these two colours helps with the rest. [ft.10] Is it, then, the case that through the pair blue-red the child has perceived the meaning; ‘colour’? Is the crucial moment of habit-formation in that coming to awareness that arrival at a ‘point of view of colour’, that intellectual analysis which subsumes the data under one category? But for the child to be able to perceive blue and red under the category of colour, the category must be rooted in the data, otherwise no subsumption could recognize it in them. It is necessary that, on the ‘blue’ and ‘red’ panels presented to him the particular kind of vibration and impression on the eye known as blue and red should be represented. In the gaze we have at our disposal a natural instrument analogous to the blind man’s stick. The gaze gets more or less from things according to the way in which it questions them, ranges over or dwells on them. To learn to see colours it is to acquire a certain style of seeing, a new use of one’s own body: it is to enrich and recast the body image. Whether a system of motor or perceptual powers, our body is not an object for an ‘I think’, it is a grouping of lived-through meanings which moves towards its equilibrium. Sometimes a new cluster of meanings is formed; our former movements are integrated into a fresh motor entity, the first visual data into a fresh sensory entity, our natural powers suddenly come together in a richer meaning, which hitherto has been merely foreshadowed in our perceptual or practical field, and which has made itself felt in our experience by no more than a certain lack, and which by its coming suddenly reshuffles the elements of our equilibrium and fulfils our blind expectation. (175-177)

In the action of the hand which is raised towards an object is contained a reference to the object, not as an object represented, but as that highly specific thing towards which we project ourselves, near which we are, in anticipation, and which we haunt. [ft.94] Consciousness is [p.159 | p.160] being-towards-the-thing through the intermediary of the body. A movement is learned when the body has understood it, that is, when it has incorporated it into its ‘world’, and to move one’s body is to aim at [p.160 | p.161] things through it; it is to allow oneself to respond to their call, which is made upon it independently of any representation. Motility, then, is not, as it were, a handmaid of consciousness, transporting the body to that point in space of which we have formed a representation beforehand. In order that we may be able to move our body towards an object, the object must first exist for it, our body must not belong to the realm of the ‘in-itself’. (159-161)




Clark, Andy. Natural-Born Cyborgs: Minds, Technologies, and the Future of Human Intelligence. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.


Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. Phenomenology of Perception. Transl. Colin Smith. London/New York: Routledge, 1958.


Clark and Chalmers:

Based on the pdf version available at:
http://www.philosophy.ed.ac.uk/people/clark/pubs/TheExtendedMind.pdf

Clark, Andy and David Chalmers. “The Extended Mind.”
The pdf lists the following publication information:

"The Extended Mind" (with Dave Chalmers) ANALYSIS 58: 1: 1998 p.7-19
Reprinted in THE PHILOSOPHER'S ANNUAL vol XXI-1998 (Ridgeview, 2000) p.59-74
Reprinted in D. Chalmers (ed) PHILOSOPHY OF MIND:CLASSICAL AND CONTEMPORARY READINGS (Oxford University Press, 2002)

Clark & Chalmer’s Extended Mind, Summary


summary by Corry Shores
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Andy Clark and David Chalmers

“Extended Mind”

Summary


Brief summary:
Our cognitive processes often extend outside the confines of our own body, as for example when we use a calculator to perform complicated mathematical operations. But also we can say that our very mind itself, in fact our very own self itself, extends into external systems that we are coupled into. Our mental state of belief can be externalized, for example, when we depend on a notebook to ‘remember’ information for us: we believe in the truth of the information we inscribed there, even though that information was not retained inside our own heads. Here, without the external aid, we would not believe in the facts that the aid would be carrying, because we would be unable to bring them to mind.

I. Introduction

The authors explain they will advocate “an active externalism, based on the active role of the environment in driving cognitive processes.” (2) [Cited pages accord with the online pdf]

II. Extended Cognition

The authors have us consider three cases:
(1) A person sits behind a computer screen displaying geometrical shapes and she must mentally rotate them to see which sockets they fit into.
(2) The person in same situation can now either press a button to rotate the shapes or just use her imagination, although the button probably speeds the operation.
(3) A future person with a neural implant can rotate the image as fast as the computer in the previous case. The person still must decide whether to use her own mind or the implant, as each option makes a different demand on her attention and on other brain activities at that time.

The authors ask: How much cognition is involved in these cases? All three are similar. They say cases 1 and 3 are on par [perhaps because the authors regard the computational operation and the mental operation to involve the same amount of information processing.] Case 2 and 3 perform relatively the same computational operation, although in 2 the computational structure is distributed across agent and computer rather than being within the agent. The authors ask, what makes case 3, when it is cognitive, different from 2? The authors will be challenging the idea that there is a difference between computational structures either (a)  merely in the agent or (b) across the agent and external implements.

This conjunction of agent and external implement is commonplace. We use pencil and paper to perform long multiplication, for example, and we use “the general paraphernalia of language, books, diagrams, and culture.” (3)

In all these cases the individual brain performs some operations, while others are delegated to manipulations of external media. (3)

III. Active  Externalism

The authors state their thesis:

In these cases, the human organism is linked with an external entity in a two-way interaction, creating a coupled system that can be seen as a cognitive system in its own right. All the components in the system play an active causal role, and they jointly govern behavior in the same sort of way that cognition usually does. If we remove the external component the system's behavioral competence will drop, just as it would if we removed part of its brain. Our thesis is that this sort of coupled process counts equally well as a cognitive process, whether or not it is wholly in the head. (4, emphases mine)

The authors then distinguish their own active externalism from the passive externalism of Putnam and Burge.

In the cases we describe, by contrast, the relevant external features are active, playing a crucial role in the here-and-now. Because they are coupled with the human organism, they have a direct impact on the organism and on its behavior. In these cases, the relevant parts of the world are in the loop, not dangling at the other end of a long causal chain. Concentrating on this sort of coupling leads us to an active externalism, as opposed to the passive externalism of Putnam and Burge. (5, boldface mine, italics theirs)

The authors’ view is reflected in a growing body of scientific investigations. Thus their hypothesis is more than a terminological distinction. Rather,

it makes a significant difference to the methodology of scientific investigation. In effect, explanatory methods that might once have been thought appropriate only for the analysis of "inner" processes are now being adapted for the study of the outer, and there is promise that our understanding of cognition will become richer for it. (6)

Those who are not warm to the extended mind hypothesis perhaps think all cognitive processes are conscious.

But not every cognitive process, at least on standard usage, is a conscious process. It is widely accepted that all sorts of processes beyond the borders of consciousness play a crucial role in cognitive processing: in the retrieval of memories, linguistic processes, and skill acquisition, for example. So the mere fact that external processes are external where consciousness is internal is no reason to deny that those processes are cognitive.(7)

Others might object to extended mind because they think that if the cognitive process requires external things that might not be carriable or carried with the person, then they are not inherently part of a cognitive process. Yet the authors note, in the future we might be able to plug the tools into our brains. Also, counting on our fingers is admitted as part of the cognitive process of counting. It is really more a matter of reliable coupling. (8)

Our cognitive and perceptual systems often make use of the environment:

Our visual systems have evolved to rely on their environment in various ways: they exploit contingent facts about the structure of natural scenes (e.g. Ullman and Richards 1984), for example, and they take advantage of the computational shortcuts afforded by bodily motion and locomotion (e.g. Blake and Yuille, 1992). (9, boldface mine)

Language also allows externalized cognition through actively coupled systems (consider people brainstorming around a table). (9)

Also, the child’s brain might develop in accordance to how it adapts to external computational resources: “the brain develops in a way that complements the external structures, and learns to play its role within a unified, densely coupled system”. (9)

The authors then draw an analogy: a fish uses available and self-created vortices in the water to help it swim more efficiently:

The extraordinary efficiency of the fish as a swimming device is partly due, it now seems, to an evolved capacity to couple its swimming behaviors to the pools of external kinetic energy found as swirls, eddies and vortices in its watery environment (see Triantafyllou and G. Triantafyllou 1995). These vortices include both naturally occurring ones (e.g., where water hits a rock) and self-induced ones (created by well-timed tail flaps). The fish swims by building these externally occurring processes into the very heart of its locomotion routines. The fish and surrounding vortices together constitute a unified and remarkably efficient swimming machine. (10, boldface mine)

The authors then write of language metaphorically as being like a sea, and we as using it like fish use water.

Where the fish flaps its tail to set up the eddies and vortices it subsequently exploits, we intervene in multiple linguistic media, creating local structures and disturbances whose reliable presence drives our ongoing internal processes. Words and external symbols are thus paramount among the cognitive vortices which help constitute human thought. (10)
 

IV. From Cognition to Mind


Some might agree that cognitive processes can involve external components, but not that the mind itself can thereby be externalized. (10)

The authors argue that there are types of mental states

in which external factors make a significant contribution. In particular, we will argue that beliefs can be constituted partly by features of the environment, when those features play the right sort of role in driving cognitive processes. If so, the mind extends into the world. (11)

The authors first have us consider “a normal case of belief embedded in memory”. (11)


Case 1. Normal case of belief imbedded in memory: Inga’s memory recall

Inga hears from her friend that there is an art exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art, and she decides to go view it. She remembers that MOMA is on 53rd Street.
(a) Clearly Inga believes that MOMA is on 53rd Street.
(b) She believed this even before consulting her memory.
The belief was “sitting somewhere in memory, waiting to be accessed.” (11)


Case 2. Alzheimer patient using notebook: Otto’s external memory bank

Otto has Alzheimer’s and so he “relies on information in the environment to help structure his life.” (11) For example, he writes new information he encounters in a notebook that he carries with him everywhere he goes. If he needs any old information, he looks for it in his notebook. Thus the notebook plays the role normally played by biological memory. Today he hears that there is an exhibition at MOMA, and decides he will go see it. He checks his notebook and reads that the museum is on 53rd Street. He then walks to 53rd Street and enters the museum.
(a) Clearly Otto believes that MOMA is on 53rd Street, for otherwise he would not have walked there with the intention of visiting the museum.
(b) Otto, like Inga, also believed that MOMA is on 53rd Street even before it came explicitly to mind (for Inga it came to mind through recall, and in Otto’s case, through checking his notebook). For, Otto always consults his notebook under the assumption it has reliable information just as Inga consults her memory, and so before checking the MOMA address, he already believed in the truth of address it recorded. The notebook functions just the same as Inga’s memory, with the only exception being that the notebook lies outside Otto’s body.

Someone might object that Otto does not always believe specifically that MOMA is on 53rd Street. He only believes that whatever is written is true, whatever that may be. He believes it is 53rd Street just while seeing it in the book, and then after forgetting it ceases to believe it is on this particular street. But that would be the same as saying Inga does not believe MOMA is on 53rd Street as soon as she is no longer explicitly conscious of this fact.

To say that the beliefs disappear when the notebook is filed away seems to miss the big picture in just the same way as saying that Inga's beliefs disappear as soon as she is no longer conscious of them. In both cases the information is reliably there when needed, available to consciousness and available to guide action, in just the way that we expect a belief to be. (12)


Case 3. Alzheimer’s patient with incorrect information in notebook: Otto’s Twin

Otto has a twin who is physically identical to Otto. The only difference is that Twin Otto has written in his notebook that MOMA is on 51st Street. 

Consequently, Twin Otto is best characterized as believing that the museum is on 51st Street, where Otto believes it is on 53rd. In these cases, a belief is simply not in the head. (13)

The moral is that when it comes to belief, there is nothing sacred about skull and skin. What makes some information count as a belief is the role it plays, and there is no reason why the relevant role can be played only from inside the body. (14)


Objections

Objection 1: Inga has more reliable access to the information.
Someone can take Otto’s notebook away, but Inga’s is kept safely in her head.
However:
Otto has reliable access to the notebook in the example, and Inga’s memory is not perfectly reliable: “A surgeon might tamper with her brain, or more mundanely, she might have too much to drink. The mere possibility of such tampering is not enough to deny her the belief.”


Objection 2: Sometimes Otto loses access to his notebook, for example, when he is showering.
Thus does this not mean that his belief comes and goes?
However:
Inga also has occasional temporary disconnections with the information, for example, when she is asleep or intoxicated. In these cases,

we do not say that her belief disappears. What really counts is that the information is easily available when the subject needs it, and this constraint is satisfied equally in the two cases. (15)


Objection 3: Inga has better access to the information
, because the connections between her conscious thinking and her memory are tighter than between Otto and his notebook.
However,
Consider Inga’s friend Lucy. Her consciousness-memory connections are not as efficient, perhaps because of brain damage. Still, the relevant information is accessible, and thus Lucy believes the museum is on 53rd Street. (15-16)


Objection 4: Inga has direct access to the information, but Otto can only access it by means of perception.

However,
[Perception would involve gathering information located outside the system. But] the authors are advocating a view which regards both Otto’s internal processes and his notebook as being a part of one single cognitive system. [And consider also how when we do recall some things, it is as if it were appearing to internally, seen by our mind’s ‘eye’.]

From the standpoint of this system, the flow of information between notebook and brain is not perceptual at all; it does not involve the impact of something outside the system. It is more akin to information flow within the brain. The only deep way in which the access is perceptual is that in Otto's case, there is a distinctly perceptual phenomenology associated with the retrieval of the information, whereas in Inga's case there is not. But why should the nature of an associated phenomenology make a difference to the status of a belief? Inga's memory may have some associated phenomenology, but it is still a belief. The phenomenology is not visual, to be sure. But for visual phenomenology consider the Terminator, from the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie of the same name. When he recalls some information from memory, it is "displayed" before him in his visual field (presumably he is conscious of it, as there are frequent shots depicting his point of view). The fact that standing memories are recalled in this unusual way surely makes little difference to their status as standing beliefs. (16)

Thus the differences between the cases of Otto and Inga are too shallow to be worth focusing on.

V. Beyond the Outer Limits

The authors do not have categorical answers to the following questions:

If the thesis is accepted, how far should we go? All sorts of puzzle cases spring to mind. What of the amnesic villagers in 100 Years of Solitude, who forget the names for everything and so hang labels everywhere? Does the information in my Filofax count as part of my memory? If Otto's notebook has been tampered with, does he believe the newly-installed information? Do I believe the contents of the page in front of me before I read it? Is my cognitive state somehow spread across the Internet? (17)

However, they write, “to help understand what is involved in ascriptions of extended belief, we can at least examine the features of our central case that make the notion so clearly applicable there.” (17)

1) The notebook is a constant in Otto’s life. He almost never takes action without consulting it, when its information is relevant for the decision. (17)

2) “The information in the notebook is directly available without difficulty.” (17-18)

3) “upon retrieving information from the notebook he automatically endorses it.” (18)

4) “the information in the notebook has been consciously endorsed at some point in the past, and indeed is there as a consequence of this endorsement.” (18)

If we stray too much from the above features, especially the first three, “the applicability of the notion of ‘belief’ gradually falls off.” (18) For example, if someone does not consistently consult some source of information like Otto does with his notebook, then “information in it counts less clearly as part of my belief system.” (18)

It is also possible that cognition can be socially extended.

In an unusually interdependent couple, it is entirely possible that one partner's beliefs will play the same sort of role for the other as the notebook plays for Otto. What is central is a high degree of trust, reliance, and accessibility. In other social relationships these criteria may not be so clearly fulfilled, but they might nevertheless be fulfilled in specific domains. For example, the waiter at my favorite restaurant might act as a repository of my beliefs about my favorite meals (this might even be construed as a case of extended desire). In other cases, one's beliefs might be embodied in one's secretary, one's accountant, or one's collaborator (18-19)

In these cases of socially extended mind, language is what couples the agents. “Language, thus construed, is not a mirror of our inner states but a complement to them. It serves as a tool whose role is to extend cognition in ways that on-board devices cannot.” (19)

Extended mind implies an extended self.

Most of us already accept that the self outstrips the boundaries of consciousness; my dispositional beliefs, for example, constitute in some deep sense part of who I am. If so, then these boundaries may also fall beyond the skin. The information in Otto's notebook, for example, is a central part of his identity as a cognitive agent. What this comes to is that Otto himself is best regarded as an extended system, a coupling of biological organism and external resources. To consistently resist this conclusion, we would have to shrink the self into a mere bundle of occurrent states, severely threatening its deep psychological continuity. Far better to take the broader view, and see agents themselves as spread into the world. (20)

If this is so, there are significant philosophical consequences for research not only in cognitive science but also in moral and social domains. For example,

in some cases interfering with someone's environment will have the same moral significance as interfering with their person. And if the view is taken seriously, certain forms of social activity might be reconceived as less akin to communication and action, and as more akin to thought. (20)



Based on the pdf version available at:
http://www.philosophy.ed.ac.uk/people/clark/pubs/TheExtendedMind.pdf



Clark, Andy and David Chalmers. “The Extended Mind.”
The pdf lists the following publication information:

"The Extended Mind" (with Dave Chalmers) ANALYSIS 58: 1: 1998 p.7-19
Reprinted in THE PHILOSOPHER'S ANNUAL vol XXI-1998 (Ridgeview, 2000) p.59-74
Reprinted in D. Chalmers (ed) PHILOSOPHY OF MIND:CLASSICAL AND CONTEMPORARY READINGS (Oxford University Press, 2002)



Text from the pdf at http://www.philosophy.ed.ac.uk/people/clark/pubs/TheExtendedMind.pdf:

"The Extended Mind" (with Dave Chalmers) ANALYSIS 58: 1: 1998 p.7-19
Reprinted in THE PHILOSOPHER'S ANNUAL vol XXI-1998 (Ridgeview, 2000) p.59-74
Reprinted in D. Chalmers (ed) PHILOSOPHY OF MIND:CLASSICAL AND CONTEMPORARY READINGS (Oxford University Press, 2002)
The Extended Mind
Andy Clark & David J. Chalmers [*]
Department of Philosophy
Washington University
St. Louis, MO 63130
Department of Philosophy
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 85721
andy@twinearth.wustl.edu
chalmers@arizona.edu
*[[Authors are listed in order of degree of belief in the central thesis.]]
[[Published in Analysis 58:10-23, 1998. Reprinted in (P. Grim, ed) The Philosopher's Annual, vol XXI, 1998.]]
1 Introduction
Where does the mind stop and the rest of the world begin? The question invites two standard replies. Some accept the demarcations of skin and skull, and say that what is outside the body is outside the mind. Others are impressed by arguments suggesting that the meaning of our words "just ain't in the head", and hold that this externalism about meaning carries over into an
externalism about mind. We propose to pursue a third position. We advocate a very different sort of externalism: an active externalism, based on the active role of the environment in driving cognitive processes.
2 Extended Cognition
Consider three cases of human problem-solving:
(1) A person sits in front of a computer screen which displays images of various two-dimensional geometric shapes and is asked to answer questions concerning the potential fit of such shapes into depicted "sockets". To assess fit, the person must mentally rotate the shapes to align them with the sockets.
(2) A person sits in front of a similar computer screen, but this time can choose either to physically rotate the image on the screen, by pressing a rotate button, or to mentally rotate the image as before. We can also suppose, not unrealistically, that some speed advantage accrues to the physical rotation operation.
(3) Sometime in the cyberpunk future, a person sits in front of a similar computer screen. This agent, however, has the benefit of a neural implant which can perform the rotation operation as fast as the computer in the previous example. The agent must still choose which internal resource to use (the implant or the good old fashioned mental rotation), as each resource makes different demands on attention and other concurrent brain activity.
How much cognition is present in these cases? We suggest that all three cases are similar. Case (3) with the neural implant seems clearly to be on a par with case (1). And case (2) with the rotation button displays the same sort of computational structure as case (3), although it is distributed across agent and computer instead of
internalized within the agent. If the rotation in case (3) is cognitive, by what right do we count case (2) as fundamentally different? We cannot simply point to the skin/skull boundary as justification, since the legitimacy of that boundary is precisely what is at issue. But nothing else seems different.
The kind of case just described is by no means as exotic as it may at first appear. It is not just the presence of advanced external computing resources which raises the issue, but rather the general tendency of human reasoners to lean heavily on environmental supports. Thus consider the use of pen and paper to perform long multiplication (McClelland et al 1986, Clark 1989), the use of physical re-arrangements of letter tiles to prompt word recall in Scrabble (Kirsh 1995), the use of instruments such as the nautical slide rule (Hutchins 1995), and the general paraphernalia of language, books, diagrams, and culture. In all these cases the individual brain performs some operations, while others are delegated to manipulations of external media. Had our brains been different, this distribution of tasks would doubtless have varied.
In fact, even the mental rotation cases described in scenarios (1) and (2) are real. The cases reflect options available to players of the computer game Tetris. In Tetris, falling geometric shapes must be rapidly directed into an appropriate slot in an emerging structure. A rotation button can be used. David Kirsh and Paul Maglio (1994) calculate that the physical rotation of a shape through 90 degrees takes about 100 milliseconds, plus about 200 milliseconds to select the button. To achieve the same result by mental rotation takes about 1000 milliseconds. Kirsh and Maglio go on to present compelling evidence that physical rotation is used not just to position a shape ready to fit a slot, but often to help determine whether the shape and the slot are compatible. The latter use constitutes a case of what Kirsh and Maglio call an `epistemic action'. Epistemic actions alter the world so as to aid and augment cognitive processes such as recognition and search. Merely
pragmatic actions, by contrast, alter the world because some physical change is desirable for its own sake (e.g., putting cement into a hole in a dam).
Epistemic action, we suggest, demands spread of epistemic credit. If, as we confront some task, a part of the world functions as a process which, were it done in the head, we would have no hesitation in recognizing as part of the cognitive process, then that part of the world is (so we claim) part of the cognitive process. Cognitive processes ain't (all) in the head!
3 Active Externalism
In these cases, the human organism is linked with an external entity in a two-way interaction, creating a coupled system that can be seen as a cognitive system in its own right. All the components in the system play an active causal role, and they jointly govern behavior in the same sort of way that cognition usually does. If we remove the external component the system's behavioral competence will drop, just as it would if we removed part of its brain. Our thesis is that this sort of coupled process counts equally well as a cognitive process, whether or not it is wholly in the head.
This externalism differs greatly from standard variety advocated by Putnam (1975) and Burge (1979). When I believe that water is wet and my twin believes that twin water is wet, the external features responsible for the difference in our beliefs are distal and historical, at the other end of a lengthy causal chain. Features of the present are not relevant: if I happen to be surrounded by XYZ right now (maybe I have teleported to Twin Earth), my beliefs still concern standard water, because of my history. In these cases, the relevant external features are passive. Because of their distal nature, they play no role in driving the cognitive process in the here-and-now. This is reflected by the fact that the actions
performed by me and my twin are physically indistinguishable, despite our external differences.
In the cases we describe, by contrast, the relevant external features are active, playing a crucial role in the here-and-now. Because they are coupled with the human organism, they have a direct impact on the organism and on its behavior. In these cases, the relevant parts of the world are in the loop, not dangling at the other end of a long causal chain. Concentrating on this sort of coupling leads us to an active externalism, as opposed to the passive externalism of Putnam and Burge.
Many have complained that even if Putnam and Burge are right about the externality of content, it is not clear that these external aspects play a causal or explanatory role in the generation of action. In counterfactual cases where internal structure is held constant but these external features are changed, behavior looks just the same; so internal structure seems to be doing the crucial work. We will not adjudicate that issue here, but we note that active externalism is not threatened by any such problem. The external features in a coupled system play an ineliminable role - if we retain internal structure but change the external features, behavior may change completely. The external features here are just as causally relevant as typical internal features of the brain.[*]
*[[Much of the appeal of externalism in the philosophy of mind may stem from the intuitive appeal of active externalism. Externalists often make analogies involving external features in coupled systems, and appeal to the arbitrariness of boundaries between brain and environment. But these intuitions sit uneasily with the letter of standard externalism. In most of the Putnam/Burge cases, the immediate environment is irrelevant; only the historical environment counts. Debate has focused on the question of whether mind must be in the head, but a more relevant question in assessing these examples might be: is mind in the present?]]
By embracing an active externalism, we allow a more natural explanation of all sorts of actions. One can explain my choice of words in Scrabble, for example, as the outcome of an extended cognitive process involving the rearrangement of tiles on my tray. Of course, one could always try to explain my action in terms of internal processes and a long series of "inputs" and "actions", but this explanation would be needlessly complex. If an isomorphic process were going on in the head, we would feel no urge to characterize it in this cumbersome way.[*] In a very real sense, the re-arrangement of tiles on the tray is not part of action; it is part of thought.
*[[Herbert Simon (1981) once suggested that we view internal memory as, in effect, an external resource upon which "real" inner processes operate. "Search in memory," he comments, "is not very different from search of the external environment." Simon's view at least has the virtue of treating internal and external processing with the parity they deserve, but we suspect that on his view the mind will shrink too small for most people's tastes. ]]
The view we advocate here is reflected by a growing body of research in cognitive science. In areas as diverse as the theory of situated cognition (Suchman 1987), studies of real-world-robotics (Beer 1989), dynamical approaches to child development (Thelen and Smith 1994), and research on the cognitive properties of collectives of agents (Hutchins 1995), cognition is often taken to be continuous with processes in the environment.[*] Thus, in seeing cognition as extended one is not merely making a terminological decision; it makes a significant difference to the methodology of scientific investigation. In effect, explanatory methods that might once have been thought appropriate only for the analysis of "inner" processes are now being adapted for the study of the outer, and there is promise that our understanding of cognition will become richer for it.
*[[Philosophical views of a similar spirit can be found in Haugeland 1995, McClamrock 1985, Varela et al 1991, and Wilson 1994..]]
Some find this sort of externalism unpalatable. One reason may be that many identify the cognitive with the conscious, and it seems far from plausible that consciousness extends outside the head in these cases. But not every cognitive process, at least on standard usage, is a conscious process. It is widely accepted that all sorts of processes beyond the borders of consciousness play a crucial role in cognitive processing: in the retrieval of memories, linguistic processes, and skill acquisition, for example. So the mere fact that external processes are external where consciousness is internal is no reason to deny that those processes are cognitive.
More interestingly, one might argue that what keeps real cognition processes in the head is the requirement that cognitive processes be portable. Here, we are moved by a vision of what might be called the Naked Mind: a package of resources and operations we can always bring to bear on a cognitive task, regardless of the local environment. On this view, the trouble with coupled systems is that they are too easily decoupled. The true cognitive processes are those that lie at the constant core of the system; anything else is an add-on extra.
There is something to this objection. The brain (or brain and body) comprises a package of basic, portable, cognitive resources that is of interest in its own right. These resources may incorporate bodily actions into cognitive processes, as when we use our fingers as working memory in a tricky calculation, but they will not encompass the more contingent aspects of our external environment, such as a pocket calculator. Still, mere contingency of coupling does not rule out cognitive status. In the distant future we may be able to plug various modules into our brain to help us out: a module for extra short-term memory when we need it, for
example. When a module is plugged in, the processes involving it are just as cognitive as if they had been there all along.[*]
*[[Or consider the following passage from a recent science fiction novel (McHugh 1992, p. 213): "I am taken to the system's department where I am attuned to the system. All I do is jack in and then a technician instructs the system to attune and it does. I jack out and query the time. 10:52. The information pops up. Always before I could only access information when I was jacked in, it gave me a sense that I knew what I thought and what the system told me, but now, how do I know what is system and what is Zhang?"]]
Even if one were to make the portability criterion pivotal, active externalism would not be undermined. Counting on our fingers has already been let in the door, for example, and it is easy to push things further. Think of the old image of the engineer with a slide rule hanging from his belt wherever he goes. What if people always carried a pocket calculator, or had them implanted? The real moral of the portability intuition is that for coupled systems to be relevant to the core of cognition, reliable coupling is required. It happens that most reliable coupling takes place within the brain, but there can easily be reliable coupling with the environment as well. If the resources of my calculator or my Filofax are always there when I need them, then they are coupled with me as reliably as we need. In effect, they are part of the basic package of cognitive resources that I bring to bear on the everyday world. These systems cannot be impugned simply on the basis of the danger of discrete damage, loss, or malfunction, or because of any occasional decoupling: the biological brain is in similar danger, and occasionally loses capacities temporarily in episodes of sleep, intoxication, and emotion. If the relevant capacities are generally there when they are required, this is coupling enough.
Moreover, it may be that the biological brain has in fact evolved and matured in ways which factor in the reliable presence of a manipulable external environment. It certainly seems that evolution has favored on-board capacities which are especially
geared to parasitizing the local environment so as to reduce memory load, and even to transform the nature of the computational problems themselves. Our visual systems have evolved to rely on their environment in various ways: they exploit contingent facts about the structure of natural scenes (e.g. Ullman and Richards 1984), for example, and they take advantage of the computational shortcuts afforded by bodily motion and locomotion (e.g. Blake and Yuille, 1992). Perhaps there are other cases where evolution has found it advantageous to exploit the possibility of the environment being in the cognitive loop. If so, then external coupling is part of the truly basic package of cognitive resources that we bring to bear on the world.
Language may be an example. Language appears to be a central means by which cognitive processes are extended into the world. Think of a group of people brainstorming around a table, or a philosopher who thinks best by writing, developing her ideas as she goes. It may be that language evolved, in part, to enable such extensions of our cognitive resources within actively coupled systems.
Within the lifetime of an organism, too, individual learning may have molded the brain in ways that rely on cognitive extensions that surrounded us as we learned. Language is again a central example here, as are the various physical and computational artifacts that are routinely used as cognitive extensions by children in schools and by trainees in numerous professions. In such cases the brain develops in a way that complements the external structures, and learns to play its role within a unified, densely coupled system. Once we recognize the crucial role of the environment in constraining the evolution and development of cognition, we see that extended cognition is a core cognitive process, not an add-on extra.
An analogy may be helpful. The extraordinary efficiency of the fish as a swimming device is partly due, it now seems, to an evolved capacity to couple its swimming behaviors to the pools of external kinetic energy found as swirls, eddies and vortices in its watery environment (see Triantafyllou and G. Triantafyllou 1995). These vortices include both naturally occurring ones (e.g., where water hits a rock) and self-induced ones (created by well-timed tail flaps). The fish swims by building these externally occurring processes into the very heart of its locomotion routines. The fish and surrounding vortices together constitute a unified and remarkably efficient swimming machine.
Now consider a reliable feature of the human environment, such as the sea of words. This linguistic surround envelopes us from birth. Under such conditions, the plastic human brain will surely come to treat such structures as a reliable resource to be factored into the shaping of on-board cognitive routines. Where the fish flaps its tail to set up the eddies and vortices it subsequently exploits, we intervene in multiple linguistic media, creating local structures and disturbances whose reliable presence drives our ongoing internal processes. Words and external symbols are thus paramount among the cognitive vortices which help constitute human thought.
4 From Cognition to Mind
So far we have spoken largely about "cognitive processing", and argued for its extension into the environment. Some might think that the conclusion has been bought too cheaply. Perhaps some processing takes place in the environment, but what of mind? Everything we have said so far is compatible with the view that truly mental states - experiences, beliefs, desires, emotions, and so on - are all determined by states of the brain. Perhaps what is truly mental is internal, after all?
We propose to take things a step further. While some mental states, such as experiences, may be determined internally, there are other cases in which external factors make a significant contribution. In particular, we will argue that beliefs can be constituted partly by features of the environment, when those features play the right sort of role in driving cognitive processes. If so, the mind extends into the world.
First, consider a normal case of belief embedded in memory. Inga hears from a friend that there is an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, and decides to go see it. She thinks for a moment and recalls that the museum is on 53rd Street, so she walks to 53rd Street and goes into the museum. It seems clear that Inga believes that the museum is on 53rd Street, and that she believed this even before she consulted her memory. It was not previously an occurrent belief, but then neither are most of our beliefs. The belief was sitting somewhere in memory, waiting to be accessed.
Now consider Otto. Otto suffers from Alzheimer's disease, and like many Alzheimer's patients, he relies on information in the environment to help structure his life. Otto carries a notebook around with him everywhere he goes. When he learns new information, he writes it down. When he needs some old information, he looks it up. For Otto, his notebook plays the role usually played by a biological memory. Today, Otto hears about the exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, and decides to go see it. He consults the notebook, which says that the museum is on 53rd Street, so he walks to 53rd Street and goes into the museum.
Clearly, Otto walked to 53rd Street because he wanted to go to the museum and he believed the museum was on 53rd Street. And just as Inga had her belief even before she consulted her memory, it seems reasonable to say that Otto believed the museum was on 53rd Street even before consulting his notebook. For in relevant respects the cases are entirely analogous: the notebook plays for
Otto the same role that memory plays for Inga. The information in the notebook functions just like the information constituting an ordinary non-occurrent belief; it just happens that this information lies beyond the skin.
The alternative is to say that Otto has no belief about the matter until he consults his notebook; at best, he believes that the museum is located at the address in the notebook. But if we follow Otto around for a while, we will see how unnatural this way of speaking is. Otto is constantly using his notebook as a matter of course. It is central to his actions in all sorts of contexts, in the way that an ordinary memory is central in an ordinary life. The same information might come up again and again, perhaps being slightly modified on occasion, before retreating into the recesses of his artificial memory. To say that the beliefs disappear when the notebook is filed away seems to miss the big picture in just the same way as saying that Inga's beliefs disappear as soon as she is no longer conscious of them. In both cases the information is reliably there when needed, available to consciousness and available to guide action, in just the way that we expect a belief to be.
Certainly, insofar as beliefs and desires are characterized by their explanatory roles, Otto's and Inga's cases seem to be on a par: the essential causal dynamics of the two cases mirror each other precisely. We are happy to explain Inga's action in terms of her occurrent desire to go to the museum and her standing belief that the museum is on 53rd street, and we should be happy to explain Otto's action in the same way. The alternative is to explain Otto's action in terms of his occurrent desire to go to the museum, his standing belief that the Museum is on the location written in the notebook, and the accessible fact that the notebook says the Museum is on 53rd Street; but this complicates the explanation unnecessarily. If we must resort to explaining Otto's action this way, then we must also do so for the countless other actions in
which his notebook is involved; in each of the explanations, there will be an extra term involving the notebook. We submit that to explain things this way is to take one step too many. It is pointlessly complex, in the same way that it would be pointlessly complex to explain Inga's actions in terms of beliefs about her memory. The notebook is a constant for Otto, in the same way that memory is a constant for Inga; to point to it in every belief/desire explanation would be redundant. In an explanation, simplicity is power.
If this is right, we can even construct the case of Twin Otto, who is just like Otto except that a while ago he mistakenly wrote in his notebook that the Museum of Modern Art was on 51st Street. Today, Twin Otto is a physical duplicate of Otto from the skin in, but his notebook differs. Consequently, Twin Otto is best characterized as believing that the museum is on 51st Street, where Otto believes it is on 53rd. In these cases, a belief is simply not in the head.
This mirrors the conclusion of Putnam and Burge, but again there are important differences. In the Putnam/Burge cases, the external features constituting differences in belief are distal and historical, so that twins in these cases produce physically indistinguishable behavior. In the cases we are describing, the relevant external features play an active role in the here-and-now, and have a direct impact on behavior. Where Otto walks to 53rd Street, Twin Otto walks to 51st. There is no question of explanatory irrelevance for this sort of external belief content; it is introduced precisely because of the central explanatory role that it plays. Like the Putnam and Burge cases, these cases involve differences in reference and truth-conditions, but they also involve differences in the dynamics of cognition.[*]
*[[In the terminology of Chalmers' "The Components of Content" (forthcoming): the twins in the Putnam and Burge cases differ only in their relational content, but
Otto and his twin can be seen to differ in their notional content, which is the sort of content that governs cognition. Notional content is generally internal to a cognitive system, but in this case the cognitive system is itself effectively extended to include the notebook.]]
The moral is that when it comes to belief, there is nothing sacred about skull and skin. What makes some information count as a belief is the role it plays, and there is no reason why the relevant role can be played only from inside the body.
Some will resist this conclusion. An opponent might put her foot down and insist that as she uses the term "belief", or perhaps even according to standard usage, Otto simply does not qualify as believing that the museum is on 53rd Street. We do not intend to debate what is standard usage; our broader point is that the notion of belief ought to be used so that Otto qualifies as having the belief in question. In all important respects, Otto's case is similar to a standard case of (non-occurrent) belief. The differences between Otto's case and Inga's are striking, but they are superficial. By using the "belief" notion in a wider way, it picks out something more akin to a natural kind. The notion becomes deeper and more unified, and is more useful in explanation.
To provide substantial resistance, an opponent has to show that Otto's and Inga's cases differ in some important and relevant respect. But in what deep respect are the cases different? To make the case solely on the grounds that information is in the head in one case but not in the other would be to beg the question. If this difference is relevant to a difference in belief, it is surely not primitively relevant. To justify the different treatment, we must find some more basic underlying difference between the two.
It might be suggested that the cases are relevantly different in that Inga has more reliable access to the information. After all, someone might take away Otto's notebook at any time, but Inga's
memory is safer. It is not implausible that constancy is relevant: indeed, the fact that Otto always uses his notebook played some role in our justifying its cognitive status. If Otto were consulting a guidebook as a one-off, we would be much less likely to ascribe him a standing belief. But in the original case, Otto's access to the notebook is very reliable - not perfectly reliable, to be sure, but then neither is Inga's access to her memory. A surgeon might tamper with her brain, or more mundanely, she might have too much to drink. The mere possibility of such tampering is not enough to deny her the belief.
One might worry that Otto's access to his notebook in fact comes and goes. He showers without the notebook, for example, and he cannot read it when it is dark. Surely his belief cannot come and go so easily? We could get around this problem by redescribing the situation, but in any case an occasional temporary disconnection does not threaten our claim. After all, when Inga is asleep, or when she is intoxicated, we do not say that her belief disappears. What really counts is that the information is easily available when the subject needs it, and this constraint is satisfied equally in the two cases. If Otto's notebook were often unavailable to him at times when the information in it would be useful, there might be a problem, as the information would not be able to play the action-guiding role that is central to belief; but if it is easily available in most relevant situations, the belief is not endangered.
Perhaps a difference is that Inga has better access to the information than Otto does? Inga's "central" processes and her memory probably have a relatively high-bandwidth link between them, compared to the low-grade connection between Otto and his notebook. But this alone does not make a difference between believing and not believing. Consider Inga's museum-going friend Lucy, whose biological memory has only a low-grade link to her central systems, due to nonstandard biology or past misadventures. Processing in Lucy's case might be less efficient, but as long as the
relevant information is accessible, Lucy clearly believes that the museum is on 53rd Street. If the connection was too indirect - if Lucy had to struggle hard to retrieve the information with mixed results, or a psychotherapist's aid were needed - we might become more reluctant to ascribe the belief, but such cases are well beyond Otto's situation, in which the information is easily accessible.
Another suggestion could be that Otto has access to the relevant information only by perception, whereas Inga has more direct access -- by introspection, perhaps. In some ways, however, to put things this way is to beg the question. After all, we are in effect advocating a point of view on which Otto's internal processes and his notebook constitute a single cognitive system. From the standpoint of this system, the flow of information between notebook and brain is not perceptual at all; it does not involve the impact of something outside the system. It is more akin to information flow within the brain. The only deep way in which the access is perceptual is that in Otto's case, there is a distinctly perceptual phenomenology associated with the retrieval of the information, whereas in Inga's case there is not. But why should the nature of an associated phenomenology make a difference to the status of a belief? Inga's memory may have some associated phenomenology, but it is still a belief. The phenomenology is not visual, to be sure. But for visual phenomenology consider the Terminator, from the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie of the same name. When he recalls some information from memory, it is "displayed" before him in his visual field (presumably he is conscious of it, as there are frequent shots depicting his point of view). The fact that standing memories are recalled in this unusual way surely makes little difference to their status as standing beliefs.
These various small differences between Otto's and Inga's cases are all shallow differences. To focus on them would be to miss the
way in which for Otto, notebook entries play just the sort of role that beliefs play in guiding most people's lives.
Perhaps the intuition that Otto's is not a true belief comes from a residual feeling that the only true beliefs are occurrent beliefs. If we take this feeling seriously, Inga's belief will be ruled out too, as will many beliefs that we attribute in everyday life. This would be an extreme view, but it may be the most consistent way to deny Otto's belief. Upon even a slightly less extreme view - the view that a belief must be available for consciousness, for example - Otto's notebook entry seems to qualify just as well as Inga's memory. Once dispositional beliefs are let in the door, it is difficult to resist the conclusion that Otto's notebook has all the relevant dispositions.
5 Beyond the Outer Limits
If the thesis is accepted, how far should we go? All sorts of puzzle cases spring to mind. What of the amnesic villagers in 100 Years of Solitude, who forget the names for everything and so hang labels everywhere? Does the information in my Filofax count as part of my memory? If Otto's notebook has been tampered with, does he believe the newly-installed information? Do I believe the contents of the page in front of me before I read it? Is my cognitive state somehow spread across the Internet?
We do not think that there are categorical answers to all of these questions, and we will not give them. But to help understand what is involved in ascriptions of extended belief, we can at least examine the features of our central case that make the notion so clearly applicable there. First, the notebook is a constant in Otto's life - in cases where the information in the notebook would be relevant, he will rarely take action without consulting it. Second, the information in the notebook is directly available without
difficulty. Third, upon retrieving information from the notebook he automatically endorses it. Fourth, the information in the notebook has been consciously endorsed at some point in the past, and indeed is there as a consequence of this endorsement.[*] The status of the fourth feature as a criterion for belief is arguable (perhaps one can acquire beliefs through subliminal perception, or through memory tampering?), but the first three features certainly play a crucial role.
*[[The constancy and past-endorsement criteria may suggest that history is partly constitutive of belief. One might react to this by removing any historical component (giving a purely dispositional reading of the constancy criterion and eliminating the past-endorsement criterion, for example), or one might allow such a component as long as the main burden is carried by features of the present.]]
Insofar as increasingly exotic puzzle cases lack these features, the applicability of the notion of "belief" gradually falls off. If I rarely take relevant action without consulting my Filofax, for example, its status within my cognitive system will resemble that of the notebook in Otto's. But if I often act without consultation - for example, if I sometimes answer relevant questions with "I don't know" - then information in it counts less clearly as part of my belief system. The Internet is likely to fail on multiple counts, unless I am unusually computer-reliant, facile with the technology, and trusting, but information in certain files on my computer may qualify. In intermediate cases, the question of whether a belief is present may be indeterminate, or the answer may depend on the varying standards that are at play in various contexts in which the question might be asked. But any indeterminacy here does not mean that in the central cases, the answer is not clear.
What about socially extended cognition? Could my mental states be partly constituted by the states of other thinkers? We see no reason why not, in principle. In an unusually interdependent couple, it is entirely possible that one partner's beliefs will play the
same sort of role for the other as the notebook plays for Otto.[*] What is central is a high degree of trust, reliance, and accessibility. In other social relationships these criteria may not be so clearly fulfilled, but they might nevertheless be fulfilled in specific domains. For example, the waiter at my favorite restaurant might act as a repository of my beliefs about my favorite meals (this might even be construed as a case of extended desire). In other cases, one's beliefs might be embodied in one's secretary, one's accountant, or one's collaborator.[*]
*[[From the New York Times, March 30, 1995, p.B7, in an article on former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden: "Wooden and his wife attended 36 straight Final Fours, and she invariably served as his memory bank. Nell Wooden rarely forgot a name - her husband rarely remembered one - and in the standing-room-only Final Four lobbies, she would recognize people for him."]]
*[[Might this sort of reasoning also allow something like Burge's extended "arthritis" beliefs? After all, I might always defer to my doctor in taking relevant actions concerning my disease. Perhaps so, but there are some clear differences. For example, any extended beliefs would be grounded in an existing active relationship with the doctor, rather than in a historical relationship to a language community. And on the current analysis, my deference to the doctor would tend to yield something like a true belief that I have some other disease in my thigh, rather than the false belief that I have arthritis there. On the other hand, if I used medical experts solely as terminological consultants, the results of Burge's analysis might be mirrored.]]
In each of these cases, the major burden of the coupling between agents is carried by language. Without language, we might be much more akin to discrete Cartesian "inner" minds, in which high-level cognition relies largely on internal resources. But the advent of language has allowed us to spread this burden into the world. Language, thus construed, is not a mirror of our inner states but a complement to them. It serves as a tool whose role is to extend cognition in ways that on-board devices cannot. Indeed, it may be that the intellectual explosion in recent evolutionary time is
due as much to this linguistically-enabled extension of cognition as to any independent development in our inner cognitive resources.
What, finally, of the self? Does the extended mind imply an extended self? It seems so. Most of us already accept that the self outstrips the boundaries of consciousness; my dispositional beliefs, for example, constitute in some deep sense part of who I am. If so, then these boundaries may also fall beyond the skin. The information in Otto's notebook, for example, is a central part of his identity as a cognitive agent. What this comes to is that Otto himself is best regarded as an extended system, a coupling of biological organism and external resources. To consistently resist this conclusion, we would have to shrink the self into a mere bundle of occurrent states, severely threatening its deep psychological continuity. Far better to take the broader view, and see agents themselves as spread into the world.
As with any reconception of ourselves, this view will have significant consequences. There are obvious consequences for philosophical views of the mind and for the methodology of research in cognitive science, but there will also be effects in the moral and social domains. It may be, for example, that in some cases interfering with someone's environment will have the same moral significance as interfering with their person. And if the view is taken seriously, certain forms of social activity might be reconceived as less akin to communication and action, and as more akin to thought. In any case, once the hegemony of skin and skull is usurped, we may be able to see ourselves more truly as creatures of the world.
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