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Recent Readings

Book review: Darwinia
Reviewed: Friday, August 11, 2006

Summer reading: Spin
Reviewed: Saturday, August 5, 2006

Reviewed: Tuesday, July 18, 2006

the Omnivoire's Delimma
Reviewed: Wednesday, July 12, 2006

the Golem's Eye
Reviewed: Wednesday, May 31, 2006


the Extended Mind
Andrew Clark and David Chalmers, 1998 , (Paper URL)
Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A review from the grab-bag of the past...

Through analogy and thought examples, The Extended Mind argues that our cognition, our beliefs, and our self all partake of the world to some degree; that none of these things are trapped within our skull and skin. Clark and Chalmers propose an active externalism "based on the active role of the environment in driving cognitive processes". Note that this is not claiming that cognitive processes take place in the world--they obviously take place in the brain--but it is claiming that these processes are strongly coupled to the external world and social milieu (especially through language).

Quotes I like:

"Within the lifetime of an organism, too, individual learning may have molded the brain in ways that actively anticipate the continued presence of those ubiquitous and reliable cognitive extensions that surrounded us as we learned to perform various tasks." (cf. Frank Keil's talk on how little we really know in spite of our optimism.)

"Without language, we might be much more akin to discrete Cartesian "inner" minds, in which high-level cognition, at least, 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." [down with mentalese!].

All in all, this is a very entertaining paper whose thesis seems less shocking every year. In a world of continuous partial attention, GTD, and more devices than at which you can shake ten sticks, the idea that our selves are not all in ours head makes perfect sense.

Some References I think look interesting...

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