What is Cognition? Extended Cognition and the Criterion of the Cognitive

Mark Rowlands

in Social Brain, Distributed Mind

Published by British Academy

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780197264522
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734724 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

What is Cognition? Extended Cognition and the Criterion of the Cognitive

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According to the thesis of the extended mind, at least some cognitive processes extend into the cognizing subject's environment in the sense that they are composed of processes of manipulation, exploitation, and transformation performed by that subject on suitable environmental structures. In contrast, according to the thesis of the embedded mind, the manipulation, exploitation, and transformation of information-bearing structures provides a useful scaffolding which facilitates cognitive processes but does not, even in part, constitute them. The two theses are distinct but often confused. The extended mind has attracted three ostensibly distinct kinds of objection, all of which on further analysis reduce to the idea that the arguments for the extended mind in fact only establish the thesis of the embedded mind. This chapter argues that these three objections can all be resolved by the provision of an adequate and properly motivated criterion of the cognitive.

Keywords: extended mind; cognitive processes; embedded mind; manipulation; exploitation; transformation

Chapter.  8235 words. 

Subjects: Psychology

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