Sunday, 28 February 2016

This is a reaction to an article published in Frontiers in Psychology, 2014 by Joel Krueger. He tried to adapt the ever famous idea of A.Clark's Extended Mind and take it even one step further and present a musically extended mind. Can our mind be musically extended? J. Krueger argues that it can. He explains the reader about music and musical affordances, he also shows how music effects our motoric response, emotions, how it develops affective synchrony and influences our behaviour. The author then continues to show how, in his opinion, music can extend our cognition. Following A. Clark's example, J. Krueger presents people suffering from Moebius syndrome and how  music can help them express their emotions.

Friday, 26 February 2016

In defence of the Psychologist's "White Room"

Throughout his review of Hutchin's book, "Cognition in the Wild", Bruno Latour makes consistent reference to a navigation technique employed by the navy. He uses this reference as a classic example of distributed cognition throughout the navigation crew in a particular ship.

In the view of distributed cognition, there ceases to be any such thing as a "mind", or really any independent agent within which cognitive processes such as working memory, reasoning and attention could be "housed". Instead, these processes are available distributed across time, space and between different people. It is in this that the view contrasts most sharply with that of cognitive psychology.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Extended minds and wisdom sits in places

Are minds extended?

This is a reaction piece to 'The Extended Mind Paper' (Clark and Chalmers, 1998) co-authored by Andy Clark and David Chalmers with references to some of the more recent work done in this area. I am sure that my impression might change next week but such is the nature of my 'mind'.

When reading the extended mind readings for this week I was intrigued and stumped, in equal measure, as it sat awkwardly with some of my intuitions, and comfortably with others. Are cases of people using memory aid tools such as diaries, other people, Evernote (in a reliably coupled systematic way) to function in their day to day activities, to be thought of as cases of minds being extended e.g. a protestant minister who can no longer form new memories, following brain damage, who employs Evernote to successfully go about his duties (Clark, 2014)?

I am not wholly convinced by the premise of minds as extended, though I am sympathetic to the views extolled. So is it something useful to think with, but little more, or are they genuine cases of cognition? There is an issue concerning the lax usage of the terms cognition and mind in this piece which reflects a more general problem in cognitive science which I will not be able to tackle today (that mind is a contested concept, not to mention that cognition is too). For some thinkers, minds are synonymous with cognition and that cognition only takes places within the brain, which is the classic cognitivist view, of which there many variants. For others it is the view that the mind is thought to be embodied, that the cognising agent is the brain and body in dynamic interplay with one another. Enactivist approaches go further noting the dynamic relationship between the agent and the environment that is integral to cognition. I do all of these diverse theoretical outlooks a great disservice by passing over them in this way but I'll leave it to the readers to explore these avenues. Is this simply a case of different definitions of the same term being used to describe radically divergent activities, for which Clark and Chalmers should be taken to task, for their muddying of the water? I suspect that the water has been muddied long before this. With no expectations of putting the 'what is mind', 'what is self' dilemma to rights let's explore the Extended Mind hypothesis (EMH) a little.