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Philosophy everywhere everywhen
The First Law of Philosophy: For every philosopher, there exists an equal and opposite philosopher. The Second Law of Philosophy: They're bo
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Functionalism and mental boundaries

Functionalism and mental boundaries | Philosophy everywhere everywhen |

According to extended cognitivists, the mind’s location is only partly in the head. In addition, extended cognitivists have argued, the mind is located in parts of the world outside the body.


Moreover, the possibility of extended cognition suggests new lines of research within the domain of social cognition. If minds extend, the boundaries that define the units of social interaction become less certain. Perhaps minds overlap. If, as some extended cognitivists believe, features of the environment comprise parts of a cognitive system, then a single piece of the world might constitute a piece of distinct cognitive systems. More dramatically, perhaps parts of a mind of one individual may be located within the mind of another. Insofar as extended cognition can make such possibilities plausible, social psychologists will need to re-interpret the nature of social interaction, will need to re-examine how the motivations and emotions of a single agent can influence an extended cognitive system, and so on.

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A Brief Guide to Embodied Cognition: Why You Are Not Your Brain

A Brief Guide to Embodied Cognition: Why You Are Not Your Brain | Philosophy everywhere everywhen |

Embodied cognition, the idea that the mind is not only connected to the body but that the body influences the mind, is one of the more counter-intuitive ideas in cognitive science. In sharp contrast is dualism, a theory of mind famously put forth by Rene Descartes in the 17th century when he claimed that “there is a great difference between mind and body, inasmuch as body is by nature always divisible, and the mind is entirely indivisible… the mind or soul of man is entirely different from the body.” In the proceeding centuries, the notion of the disembodied mind flourished. From it, western thought developed two basic ideas: reason is disembodied because the mind is disembodied and reason is transcendent and universal. However, as George Lakoff and Rafeal Núñez explain:


Cognitive science calls this entire philosophical worldview into serious question on empirical grounds… [the mind] arises from the nature of our brains, bodies, and bodily experiences. This is not just the innocuous and obvious claim that we need a body to reason; rather, it is the striking claim that the very structure of reason itself comes from the details of our embodiment… Thus, to understand reason we must understand the details of our visual system, our motor system, and the general mechanism of neural binding.


What exactly does this mean? It means that our cognition isn’t confined to our cortices. That is, our cognition is influenced, perhaps determined by, our experiences in the physical world. This is why we say that something is “over our heads” to express the idea that we do not understand; we are drawing upon the physical inability to not see something over our heads and the mental feeling of uncertainty. Or why we understand warmth with affection; as infants and children the subjective judgment of affection almost always corresponded with the sensation of warmth, thus giving way to metaphors such as “I’m warming up to her.”

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Claudia M. Reder's comment, May 19, 2013 5:28 PM
Alexander Vorobiev-Char's curator insight, February 3, 11:14 PM

Соответствуют ли Ваши мысли возможностям Вашего тела? Что из них первично?

Eli Levine's comment, February 4, 6:35 AM
This sounds like an analogy to a government sitting within a society. For example, while a government does technically control the body society through the production of laws (to a limited extent), the body society also influences and effects the government (brain) to produce different results. This is how government can be working independently of (and sometimes, contrary to) the rest of society, just as the society can also work independently of (and, sometimes, when the government isn't being cooperative with society's needs) contrary to the government.<br><br>Thanks for this! :)