Posted in Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Science, Neuroscience, Philosophy of Mind, Technology, tagged Andy Clark, Cognitive Science, David Chalmers, Discover Magazine, embodied mind, embodiment, extended memory, extended mind, externalism, google, internalism, Neuroscience, Philosophy of Mind, Technology on January 24, 2009|
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There’s a great new article on the extended mind, titled, “How Google Is Making Us Smarter“, in Discover Magazine’s latest issue. You should definitely check it out.
The theory of the extended mind suggests that the mind is not contained exclusively ‘inside’ the skull, but rather that it extends into the external environment. While our mind can use the structure of our brain to store information, it also uses other structures in the outside world for cognitive functioning too. The classic example for this is the use of notepads or chalkboards as extended memory. To aid in the memorization of things, like classroom lessons or a friend’s phone number, we often utilize records stored on chalkboards or cell phones to remind us later of the information. According to this theory, the mind is intricately connected to its external environment through this kind of cognitive scaffolding. In fact, this externalism is necessary for real time, efficient action in the world. It bypasses the problem of an information bottleneck that would hamper real time cognitive processing if we had to store all of the relevant information about the world internally.
The article in Discover debunks the old myth that increasingly useful technology is making us dumb and lazy because it lessens the burden on our own brains. Rather, technology like the internet is making us smarter, because it is increasing our capacity to network with the extended world.
The theory of the extended mind was first proposed by philosophers Andy Clark and David Chalmers in a short essay aptly titled “The Extended Mind” in 1998.
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Posted in Biological Sciences, Cognitive Science, Eastern Thought, Medicine, Meditation/Yoga, Monday Profile, Neuroscience, Phenomenology, philosophy, Philosophy of Mind, tagged autopoiesis, biology, cognitve science, edmund husserl, embodied mind, embodiment, Francisco Varela, Integral Institute, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, neurophenomenology, Neuroscience, Phenomenology, philosophy, Philosophy of Mind, Tibetan Buddhism, varela on December 1, 2008|
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Francisco Varela (1946-2001) was a Chilean biologist, neuroscientist and philosopher, and is on the shortlist of visionary pioneers who conceived the interdisciplinary thesis of the embodied mind.
He began his academic career studying medicine and biology but also had a wide philosophical orientation, being primarily influenced by the work of phenomenologists Edmund Husserl and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Varela also became a Tibetan Buddhist in the 1970’s. Undoubtedly influenced by both, he was well-positioned to join an understanding of the body in nature with an internal examination of consciousness and experience. His interdisciplinary connections were extensive, which ultimately led to the co-founding of the Integral Institute, a thinktank specifically aimed at sharing ideas between different disciplines.
The ultimate accumulation of his expertise was the publication of the canonical book, The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience, co-authored with Evan Thompson and Eleanor Rosch. He is also responsible for introducing the term neurophenomenology, which conjoins the distinct methods of inquiry from phenomenology and neuroscience; a fundamental union in the development of the embodied mind thesis.
Varela is also responsible for introducing the concept of autopoiesis to biology, which refers to the self-creation and self-maintenance of biological systems.
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