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February 06, 2009

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jeremy awon

i'm confused by the following from your forward to the book.

"An argument for extended consciousness would require twins with different states of consciousness: Olga and Twin Olga are internal duplicates, but what it is like to be Olga differs from what it is like to be Twin Olga. But no matter how hard one tries to construct an Otto-style story that works like this, the story does not seem to succeed. Perhaps part of the reason is that the physical basis of consciousness requires direct access to information on an extremely high bandwidth. Perhaps some future extended system, with high-bandwidth sensitivity to environmental information, might be able to do the job. But our low-bandwidth conscious connection to the environment seems to have the wrong form as it stands."

if "Olga and Twin Olga are internal duplicates" is a condition of this story, then what would the postulated high-bandwidth connection connect? if Olga and her twins bandwidth carry different information and bridge the internal and external physicalities of their consciousness, they won't be internal duplicates anymore.

David

I also discuss Fodor's extended mind: http://blog.davebsd.com/2008/05/22/computationalism-and-the-extended-mind/

David

Ah, I did not notice that this is David Chalmers's weblog -- I wouldn't have been so quick to link to my puny undergrad paper :) And I meant to write that I discuss "Fodor's computationalism and the extended mind."

Cheers,
David

djc

Jeremy: One might picture something like a high-bandwidth connection between one's brain and a module that one carries on one's belt. If extended consciousness is possible, then there will be cases in which there is -- at least momentarily -- a difference in consciousness just due to a difference in the module when the brain state is the same. Of course given the high-bandwidth availability of material in the module, one's brain will very soon be affected too. This parallels a feature that one finds with neural correlates of consciousness, especially if one thinks of the key feature of those processes (as I do) as direct availability for global control. An NCC (the bit that is available) might be localizable, but in virtue of its availability, differences in the NCC will ramify into global differences in the brain before long.

jeremy awon

djc: I still can't get the order of this scenario right.

Momentarily, while Olga and Twin are externally different but internally identical, their consciousness differs.

Moments later, their bandwidth propagates an external difference into their internals and they are no longer internally identical. But this part of the story seems to follow the event of their consciousness differing - how can the high bandwidth availability of the belt modules state then be a requisite to "the physical basis of consciousness"?

Suppose that after having a momentary "difference in consciousness just due to a difference in the module when the brain state is the same", but before the difference can be propagated to their respective brains (transmission being capped by the speed of light), both Olga and her Twins heads are dematerialized by ray guns. The correlate of consciousness localized to the belt module thus never ramified into a global difference - if we deny the difference in consciousness at this point, weren't we always waiting on a global (thus inclusive of the internal) difference to 'sign off on' their states of consciousness being different?

djc

On the picture I have in mind, for a system to be a correlate of consciousness requires that the system be located within a system in such a way that its contents are accessible in a certain way, but actual access isn't required. (There's a bit about this in "Availability: The Cognitive Basis of Experience?".) So even in a scenario where access never occurs (e.g. because of ray guns), the NCC/module will still make a difference to the conscious state.

Brad Weslake

Hi Dave,

I have two related questions about this.

First, putting together your various replies to Fodor, the following thesis is suggested: When an agent is disposed to believe P partly in virtue of being disposed to access information I, then the subvenience base of I is part of the subvenience base of the dispositional belief that P. I wonder if you accept this?

Second, if we do not draw the lines around what counts as dispositional belief at the borders of perception and action, where do we draw them? I am now disposed to believe all sorts of recherche things, on the basis of having dispositions to access all sorts of recherche pieces of information. For instance, if I want to determine what to believe regarding the time at which a certain painting in some gallery far away was hung on the wall, I might need to access the information on some cards in the gallery basement. It seems to me a stretch to say that I have the associated dispositional belief. If you disagree, and you accept the principle suggested above (or something like it), then our minds turn out to be far more extended than the notebook-style cases might have initially suggested. On the other hand, if you agree that I do not have the associated dispositional belief in this case, I wonder what the principle is that makes the notebook case different?

djc

Hi Brad,

I think I'd accept something like the thesis you suggest. Regarding the second issue, Andy and I have a discussion in the original paper of some of the relevant conditions that make some potential cases of extended belief better than others: reliable coupling, direct availability, automatic endorsement, past conscious judgment. I take it that a number of these conditions (probably all except the third) will exclude your gallery case.

Ken

Surely you are too charitable in your reconstruction of Fodor's argument in the review:
"The mark of the mental is its intensionality (with an ‘s’); that’s to say that mental states have content; they are typically about things. " (from the review)

This is clearly a confusion of intentionality with a 't' (aboutness) and intensionality with an 's' (failure of substitutivity.

OK. Maybe the subeditor, and not Fodor, is to blame, but come on, the 's' stuff is not relevant in this debate is it?

djc

Yes, the invocation of "intensionality (with an 's')" is a bit odd, especially as Fodor goes on to gloss this with the standard gloss for intentionality, not intensionality. Probably something to do with editors wanting to avoid confusion between intentionality and intentions ("with a 't'"), discussed a bit later on. One can still make sense of the core of these passages, on the assumption that any relevant intensionality itself derives from intentionality. But obviously it's intentionality that's the issue.

Robin Herbert

It shocks me that anybody could think there was a clear and distinct boundary between the mind and the world in the first place.

Robin Herbert

" Some accept the demarcations of skin and skull, and say that what is outside the body is outside the mind. "

Who, for example?

Jacob  Freeze

An Army of Ottos

As Otto and his absolutely identical twin grow older, their memories fade, and you might expect them to rely more and more on notebooks and similar contrivances of "the external mind," but in a world where we can clone Otto atom by atom once, why not twice, or any number of times, so that even if each individual Otto can only remember one location, an army of them could navigate around New York like a typically memorious Pakistani cab driver, who infallibly retains the address of everything, along with the longest possible way to get there, while the meter whirls?

So after "Metropolitan" Otto directs the army to the Metropolitan Museum, "Home" Otto can get them home again, or "Michael's" Otto can introduce them to the billionaire lunch crowd at Michael's, "Menu" Otto can remind them that they don't like the lamb, and "David Patrick Columbia" Otto can remind them all to be very, very cordial with David Patrick Columbia, or none of them will ever get a table at Michael's again.

All this can be accomplished without the supervention of meta-Ottos, if each individual Otto knows what he knows, and when "Menu" Otto hears the rest of them shouting "What do we like?" he immediately replies "Anything but the lamb."

Heidis Hütte

I suppose, Jacob wants to draw attention to the fact that Chalmers would have done better to reply to the well-founded objections of Jacob in the thread "Supersizing the mind".

Jacob  Freeze

I’m grateful for Heidi’s suggestion that David Chalmers should have responded to my earlier comments about Otto and his “little mental friends,” but I can also understand why Professor Chalmers chose to interact instead with a genuine literary curiosity like Jerry Fodor’s review, a heavy-fingered performance of philosophical Chopsticks that suddenly resolves into the mock-ominous chords of Mozart’s song, Ihr Mädchen… “Maidens, flee Damotas!”

I mention only a few of the dualisms whose tenability we have, at one time or other, felt called on to question: mind v. body; fact v. value; knowledge v. true belief; induction v. deduction; sensing v. perceiving; thinking v. behaving; denotation v. connotation; thought v. action; appearance v. reality . . . I could go on.

“I could go on,” says Jerry Fodor, and on and on, I suppose, like the comic menace of Mozart’s minor sevenths… “Maidens, flee Damotas!”

Heidis Hütte

Oh, with Shakespeare: "More matter, with less art."

Philosophy should have the form of Mozartian recitatives: expressive, but clear and distinct.

But this also holds for philosophers who ornament their essays with logical formulas - and for Chalmers who prefers to play with Fodorian objections.

Remis

As a rather random side-note, the "Appearance vs. Reality" bit on Fodor's made me laugh really hard (I used to be a fan of F. H. Bradley's metaphysics 10 years ago, when I was on mmy early 20's).

Anyway, I tend to think we should mind better the slippery-slopes that are so common not only on Ph. of Mind, but also in Bioethics and Ph. of Science. Looking forward to read the book, Dave. Cheers from Chile!

Josh W

Fodor seemed to make another point which is quite relevant: He talked about the difficulty of literally fitting an piece of paper inside your head.
In the face of such a stubbornly alternative perspective, it should be made clear you're not talking about the iphone or the paper in all it's qualities, but those functions you can have for it that are equivalent to functions you get from things like memory. Mental components of unclear origin but clear use. To work it requires you to be able to categorise your own mental functions by analogy with external objects.
Perhaps it may even be said that the more we find these external objects useful, the more descriptive qualities we will have for mental functions. For example, can a decider function be created from the usefulness of flicking a coin? In the indecisive it may be just as useful as paper is to the forgetful!
Now when creating such definitions of functions, it seems like there should be some definition of resources or carriers for the process; it's all very well to create an analogy between the usefulness of an item and a more generalised function that categorises it's usefulness (i.e. saying it provides some support for your thinking), you then have to be able to locate that process as taking up some part of brainpower or living somewhere in the fabric of the brain, (or in whatever other structure has previously been used say to define the material limits of the mind) and then say that that brainpower is no-longer used up, or that the process no longer lives there.
If this is categorised as a loop, or some kind of flow at least, it is easy to say that what once flowed here now flows there, but not necessarally easy to prove; we can't put a tracer in and check if that activity corresponds to this action, and if it truly supersizes the brain, we can expect the old part to go off and do something else, possibly in a related field, leaving the overall brain resource usage the same, just built on the assumption of extra resources.

Heidis Hütte

I saw yesterday that there be a new entry of Jacob Freeze which I wanted to read now, but it has disappeared.

Maybe, is there a technical problem, Dave?

CP3

Huh.
The position dubbed "The extended mind"-hypothesis is such that it says
something about cognitive processes but not definitely about minds.
Is that the mad dog version of Ontological Anti-Realism or is it the
Budweiser version?
Dave,
you had my highest esteem for your 2D-Semantics and the stuff you
wrote in "The Conscious Mind", but at some point you seem to have lost it.
It all started when you lumped together mereological Anti-Realism with Anti-Realism about Abstract Objects without being so kind as to give any impression as to why yout think anti-realistically in the case of abstract objects.
Furthermore, you seem to have acquired Jacksonitis.
While you had the regrettable attitude of dodging the most difficult questions( TypeF or TypeD, for example), you now exhibit the same pattern
of sloppiness as Jackson does.
Nevermind what propositions are, just give them the anti-realistic treatment and get back to the beach.
On topic:
You say that:
The key claim here is that there can be physical twins who are in different mental states, because of differences in the way that their synchronic environments are coupled to their internal cognitive systems

They key claim is hopelessly indiscriminate.

Are the physical twins supposed to be the subjects of thoughts?
Do the differences in the environment correspondend to differences in the objects of thoughts?
Is that so because environmental objects can be objects of thoughts as supposedly phenomenal items can be?
If not what are the object of thoughts?
Just functions or propositions? On would hope not, as they are only denizins of the Anti-land.
Is there a relation between subjects and objects of thougts?
Is this relation still thought to be functionally reducible or not?
Does this relation then also play a role in individuating thoughts in physical twins?
What is a physical thing supposed to be in your account of the world?
Didn`t you once endorse the structionalist account of the phyisical, so that physical things could barely be the subject of thoughts?
Or do you go eliminative or anti-realistic concerning the thought-relation
and the subject of thoughts?

Maybe there is more than a tecnical problem, Dave.

djc

Heidis: I deleted a lengthy comment that seemed to be entirely off-topic. As always, I reserve the right to delete anything posted here, in the interests of maintaining quality and relevance. I've been a bit more liberal lately than previously, but there are limits.

CP3: I'll ignore the gratuitous ad hominem remarks. One of the main points in my foreword to Supersizing the Mind is that the extended mind thesis can be motivated and argued for in a way that's independent of one's commitments on many other philosophical issues. So my ontological anti-realism is irrelevant here. Likewise my views on the objects of thought (for which, see "Probability and Propositions" and "Propositions and Attitude Ascriptions"), my views on the functional irreducibility of thought, and so on, at least as far as I can tell. As it happens, I think that (granted a liberal ontological context) subjects stand in relations to two-dimensional propositions in virtue of functional and phenomenal facts, and that Otto and Twin Otto stand in relations to different propositions in virtue of functional differences in their extended cognitive systems. But the arguments in the paper don't require any particular view on the ontological structure of mental states, and they ought to go through on a wide variety of such views. If someone doesn't think so, it would be best to post substantive arguments to that effect.

Eau de Cologne

I could not disagree more with CP3!
I find Chalmers has enriched philosophy and other sciences once again with a brilliant new tool.

The insight that any entity which takes on a function for another entity which could provide this function itself belongs to that entity provides a whole series of enlightening conclusions.

First, this is an excellent example for the relevance of philosophy for economy. One has discussed much on the pros and cons of outsourcing. But that argument being correct the discussion is completely unfounded. Since outsourcing is the excluding of functions a company provided itself formerly to an external service company this company belongs to the customer itself because it fulfills the same function - contradiction! So outsourcing is impossible. Perhaps, the financial crisis could have been avoided if economists had listened more to philosophers!

Secondly, Chalmers's remarcable discovery discloses new possibilities to psychotherapy. One sometimes feels inferior because one does not have e.g. the soccer abilities of Cristiano Ronaldo. But there is a fantastic way to to increase one's self-confidence exorbitantly: Realize that Cristiano Ronaldo belongs to you!
This is quite easy to see. Cristiano Ronaldo gives bad interviews which trigger you to feel annoyed. So Ronaldo fulfils a function you provide yourself very often because you commit severally things which annoy you. So Ronaldo is part of your own self.
If you cannot discover one single function Cristiano Ronaldo provides for you so you have serious reasons to believe he does not belong to you: Don't worry! There is an easy way to produce the (partial) identity: Just put enormous amounts of gel into your hair and look into a mirror. You will find disgusting such as Cristiano Ronaldo's hair - immediately you feel great.

There might be very interesting philosophical results, e.g. for monism, which I leave to others to reveal.

CP3

Oh no!
Dave was on the right track once again. I overlooked the possibility of Edenic content. Although this kind of content may be worlds away, at least
in those worlds minds are genuinely extended.I am still unconvinced by that part of the argument which concerns the actuality of extended minds partly because I dont´t get how the in-virtue-of-locution can be put to work.

Concerning the dispensability of "mind"-talk, I have stumbled over a brilliant idea by Olaf L. Müller, Professor at Humboldt University.
This one of a kind philosopher beefed up the infamous Putnam-Wright-proof
that we are not brains-in-a-vat by inserting the premiss "Either there are
brains or there are no brains".
So why don´t you change tack and argue for the conclusion that either there are extended minds or talk about extended minds is dispensable.
Wouldn´t that be nice?

Jems0715Mueller

I am Bavarian, so forgive me for my bad English.First, read Freezes last comment.Totally understand Dave.I comment in 4 words:poor quality, poor relevance.What´s more the discussion is superb:first-grade philosophy.
I agree mostly with Dave. Functional aqivalence makes for extension of mind,
but I am a little bit skared by Eaus argument.You might inflate the mind too
much. If anybody can play the bank owner role, doesn´t that vindicate the commies? But maybe I´m missing someting krukial here.
@Cp3 What is that Müller stuff about? It´s alway good to hedge one´s bet and not go all-in too quickly, but isn´t your stance too weak? I think Cahlmers should look afta his Big Blind, and not let Fodor steal it.Maybe you can elaborate, though.

Walter Koener

Am Swabian, dont like that Freeze neither, and hier Swabian wir können alles, außer Hochdeutsch!

Would like hear more Müller discusses Putnam-Wright, from CP3.

Also more of "Mental components of unclear origin but clear use." from Josh W.

Thank you.


CP3

Well, this is Dave´s blog, so the Müller stuff is rather tangential .Anyway, anybody interested can check out his website http://www.philosophie.hu-berlin.de/institut/lehrstuehle/natur/mitarbeiter/mueller or reread Putnam. The ingenious idea of Müller is that if there are no brains, there is no chance in the world that we are brains-in-a- vat.Take that, sceptic!Mutatis mutandis Chalmers can blog any objections from obscurity concerning the notion part-of-mind by playing the conditioned dispensability card.
But I´d like to hear more from Dave, especially if my trying the Müller
is likely to succeed.

Heidis Hütte

I am indignant because of this arrogant Swabian! He thinks they are the most hard-working of all Germany, but he has stolen the slogan which belongs to whole Baden-Württemberg, Baden AND Schwaben. Only TOGETHER we are No 1 in all rankings! Even ahead of Bavaria (shhhhh..., don't tell it to CSU!)

But back to the topic: Where is this (Olaf) Müller from? From Göttingen? It is completely uncomprehensible for me how one can seriously think to refute the sceptical hypothesis by adding "Either there are brains or not". I refuse to call this "philosophy"!

I do not intend to deny Chalmers the predicate of a philosopher. But I like other stuff of him better than the extended mind thesis.
I am not a friend of enriched intensions. But this account given, there does not follow at all that the relata of the aquaintance relation stand in an identity relation just because they are in an aquaintance relation.
Is this the leading motivation for the extended mind thesis? Then I would reject it.

I am not sure whether the argument Eau de Cologne describes is intended by Clark and Chalmers. But if so, I would find it rather more untenable than the aquaintance relation argument.

Jacob Freeze

My internet pen-pal in Freiburg asked me to post something on this thread with a little more philosophical substance than "An Army of Ottos," and since most of the discussion here focuses more particularly on extended memory rather than the grand theme of "extended mind," I originally intended to describe some forgotten research about HM, the famous patient whose hippocampus was destroyed during an operation to alleviate epileptic seizures. Forgotten research about the all-time champion of forgetting appealed to my peculiar sense of humor, but I couldn't quite believe that it represented a good-faith response to my friend's query, so I made a fantastical attempt to connect what Jerry Fodor and David Chalmers are doing with what the word "philosophy" might suggest to a typical homme de bon sens et bonne volonté.

This apparently modest project was actually more like one of Evel Knieval's leaps over forty or fifty semi-trucks on his 2000 horsepower super-bike, except that I was trying to do it on a scooter, and I can't really blame David Chalmers for deleting the almost incomprehensible result, especially since his tolerance for opinions contrary to his own has been amply demonstrated by the continuing presence of my previous comments on his blog.

Interested readers, if any, can find a slightly improved version of this project here.

CP3

What happened to the X-Mind thesis?
Chalmers seems to be quite quiet lately, maybe he is busy fine-tuning his thesis.Meanwhile let me try to fill the vacuum.I think Heidis is very much
onto something in his last post.Ei,Ei,Identity, he doesn´t think so.One could argue that mentality is at least further extended Edenic worlds, if we follow Chalmers in thinking that in such cases there is partial constitution of the belief by the believed.And if so, he might dodge your objection by playing the dispensability-card:
MIND-TALK IS DISPENSABLE.

On the Müller stuff. Yepp, this idea of his was copied in Göttingen, eh was coined in Göttingen.Why do you think it has no power against sceptics that holds that we are possibly brains-in-a-vat is beyond me,though.If there are no brains, then it isn´t possible that we are such
brains.If there are brains, we couldn´t refer to them as brains-in-a-vat.
And so we ain´t no brains-in-a-vat.For X-minds the same lessons applies.
How to make the obvious adjustments? Well, that´s Dave´s business.

Heidis Hütte

@ CP3: No, I would say the dispensability-card is dispensable.

@ Jacob and David Chalmers: I endorse a very liberal account of censorship in internet blogs, but in favour of the authors (those who give comments), not the bloggers. I think Chalmers was not warranted to delete.

The problem is: Blogs become more and more important as a means of scientific communication. In any science, freedom of speech is a conditio sine qua non for freedom of science. Scientists and whoever is interested discuss the pros and cons of their ideas and respond to each other.
However, the right of the administrator to delete comments, a necessary tool against spam to maintain the blog, invites the admin to extend deletions on further areas.

Surely, serious insults should be deleted. But does this hold good for all kinds of insults? There is a fluid limit between harmless polemic and offensive insults.
Admittedly, denyers of Holocaust should not have a single site for their propaganda. But one has to differ between propaganda as a means of political fight against freedom and human rights and discussion on the concerned issues. One could not punish denyers of Holocaust unless one had found out its reality by scientific investigation and public discussion, and as long the Nazi crimes were not obvious enough (perhaps in the immediate post-war era) one could not blame anybody of denying Holocaust. Today also, one needs to expound the existence of gas chambers and the reports of the survivers.

However, there is even a further going inclination of the bloggers to keep their blog clean and proper, e.g. of entries which do not fulfil a certain level of quality or of relevance. But this is a desire which I would generally reject. The main reason is that the blogger is not an impartial judge. In spite of it, he is judge and prosecuter within a single person, perhaps without very few exceptions.
The blogger is the main actor at his blog. In every thread, he (if not other contributers) writes the first entry. This makes me assume that the comments usually have a certain relation to the blogger's utterances. The criterion for deletions in virtue of a lack of quality would be the assesments of the blogger, and this would consequently include that the blogger has the right to delete because he has a strong disagreement with some commentator. So this maxim would restrict freedom of speech to the area of a not too far going disagreement what seems to be unacceptable to me.
Similar problems arise with deletions because of missing relevance. Nowadays it is common with editors of philosophical estate that they print every thought fragment which has the slightest relation to the field the deceased were working on (at least I think so). The editors leave it to the scientific community to reveal the relevance of fragments they cannot recognize themselves because if they err the other scientists do not have the chance to read it themselves (unless they look at the manuscripts with their own eyes).
So I also think that the blogger ought not delete comments just because he does not see the relevance. At least the deleted comment of Jacob has fit to the topic, even though it was a very harsh critic with what he calls "academic philosophy" and might have gone (just regarding the content) a bit too far.

There are cases in which deletions are acceptable or even necessary: if someone writes something compromising what is obviously false, for example. But what is the harm with texts of bad quality or lacking relevance?
There is a middle way: One can delete something and send it back to the editor with the plea to rework it (I think Richard Chapell does so at www.philosophyetc.net). Nothing is more demotivating than finding one's entry deleted and not having saved it!

So , as a summary: In the name of freedom and science - keep the scissors closed!

djc

Heidis: I take the view that the nature and content of a blog is up to the blogger. Free speech isn't an issue, as there are many venues for speech throughout the Internet. Some websites are moderated and some are not -- that's as it should be. In my case, I want this to be a forum for high-quality philosophical discussion. Disagreement isn't a reason for moderation, but quality, relevance, and civility are reasons for moderation. Without them, the discussion quickly degenerates. Of course I'm not an unbiased judge of these things, but so be it. Again, there are many other places where commentary can be posted.

In fact, the feedback I've received from other philosophers is saying overwhelmingly that my moderation has been too permissive recently, and that the quality of discussion on this blog has gone downhill. With all the idle chitchat, the serious philosophy gets lost, and serious people are discouraged from participating. So I'm going to move in the opposite direction from what you suggest, and return to a stricter moderation policy, one that discourages idle chitchat, off-topic commentary, uninformed rhetoric, and gratuitous ad hominem remarks. To give a sense of this policy, many of the comments in this thread (including some of your own) would have been candidates for deletion, some with encouragement to resubmit with the more substantive parts intact or clarified. Sorry!

Jacob Freeze

It would be useful to have a list of subjects supposedly relevant to the philosophy of consciousness. If David Chalmers composed the list, would anything written before 1900 appear on it? Before 1950?

Restriction of a branch of philsophy to whatever its particular practitioners have created among themselves is convenient for thesis and tenure committees, but the downside is that philosophy itself becomes irrelevant to everything else.

Although a typical "philosopher of consciousness" may be as ignorant about the French and American Revolutions as a typical plumber, it wouldn't take much research to comprehend the enormous influence of Aristotle's Politics on the U.S. Constitution, or Kant's revolutionary impact on French politics in 1789, and as recently as 1968 philosophy was still a part of resistance to war and the ongoing corporatization of society and culture, and then it completely disappeared from public discourse.

For forty years meteorologists and physicists have been infinitely more prominent than philosophers in the struggle to save the planet from catastrophic climate change and nuclear war, but without the guidance of philosophy, every science can only speak for itself, in its own particular language, and it's easy enough to nullify an almost absolute consensus about global warming by digging up a couple of rogue meteorologists whose biased selection of statistical outliers is enough to confuse the public.

But however consequential the insularity of every subfield of philosophy and philosophy itself may be for the rest of us, professors of philosophy are happy enough to dismiss almost everything else as irrelevant to their profession, defined by a never-ending deluge of books and articles that no one else will ever read.

djc

Jacob: Yes and yes. I have a broad and pluralistic conception of philosophy, one that extends a long way beyond the sort of philosophy that I do in my own work. But this is not a forum for philosophy in general. It's a forum for discussion of a few specific topics of my choice. If you want to discuss climate change, there are many better places to do so. I'm open to the possibility that topics that are not obviously relevant to the topics discussed here are nevertheless relevant. But anyone who wants to post on those topics will need to make a clear and well-argued case for relevance.

JPF

I hope it's not too late to revive this discussion!

Although I'm not convinced by the Extended Mind Hypothesis, I do find it extremely interesting (and, at times, instructive). I do, however, take issue with the constitutive relation said to exist between cognitive processes and environmental features.

To be more specific, if cognitive processes cannot be separated from environmental features, then how do new environmental features come to be included into one's cognitive economy? That is, how does one enter into this reciprocal coupling relation in the first place? How is this "entrance" (for lack of a better term) different from the causal coupling that internalists seem to favour?

For instance, Adams & Aizawa ask us to imagine Otto prior to the onset of his Alzheimer disease. Presumably, Otto's notebook did not always play the "cognitive" role that it presently does. So, how can we explain its inclusion into Otto's cognitive economy if not by causal coupling - at least at first?

Additionally, if it does not make sense to individuate the constitutive components of a cognitive process (e.g. neuronal population and pencil/paper), then how can we further our scientific understanding/knowledge of cognition or cognitive processes? That is, if we are to take a holistic approach and view cognitive processes as including both internal and external features - without studying their roles independently of one another - then how we can reach a deeper understanding of cognition? All we could know, roughly, is how the main pieces fit together. We wouldn't understand the significance of why they fit together.

Truthfully, I'm just trying to understand this coupling relation from the extended mind perspective. I speculate that all this disagreement somehow derives from a simple misunderstanding. I hope someone replies! Take care :o)

jelle van dijk

Dear David
I dont' know if this has already been discussed above. What I miss in Fodor's discussion of Clark's book is the idea of the role of external prop's *changing* over time as a skill evolves. Consider a musician that first explicitly reads interprets and plays the notes (is that English?) on the score. Then, over time, the musical score becomes not so much a body of symbolic encodings as it becomes ingrained in the musicians evolving skill for playing the piece. This goes even for musical scores that the trained musician reads for the first time: some parts of it are explicitly interpreted, while other notes are part of larger visual patterns that automatically afford the right physical manipulations of the instrument (or perhas vocal cord). What I want to say is: what would happen, according to Fodor, to the "intensionality with an s" of these 'derived' symbolic encodings once they start to come to function as a transparent tool (as a Heidegerian hammer), due to prolonged experience/training? Does the intensionality slowly gets washed of the musical score by incorporating it into your routines?

(does Fodor also think that the neural patterns in hippocampus contain no intensionality because the neural patterns of the hippocampus are, ipso facto, part of the world and hence are not about something, but just are? Boy that gets us back to a famous dualism indeed...)

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