4E cognition and the dogma of harmony

Philosophical Psychology 34 (2):165-181 (2021)
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Abstract

In recent years, we have witnessed the rise of a contemporary approach to cognitive psychology known as 4E cognition. According to this ‘extracranial’ view of cognition, the mind is not ensconced in the head, but dynamically intertwined with a host of different entities, social as well as technological. The purpose of the present article is to raise a concern about 4E cognition. The concern is not about whether the mind is in fact extended, but about how this condition is currently portrayed in the 4E literature. It is argued that 4E scholars tend to paint an overly idealized picture of human–technology relations in which all entities are presumed to cooperate and collaborate. The article first describes the basic tenets of extended cognition and distributed cognition, two of the most thingly approaches in this new wave of cognitive psychology. It then proceeds to discuss the twin notions of cognition and representation and argues that it may be time to leave these concepts behind. Finally, it sketches out the so-called ‘dogma of harmony’ in the 4E literature and argues for the importance of making analytical room for conflictual human–technology relations. Two examples of such conflictual relations are provided: bad habits and deskilling.

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References found in this work

The Extended Mind.Andy Clark & David J. Chalmers - 1998 - Analysis 58 (1):7-19.
Extended Cognition and Extended Consciousness.David Chalmers - 2019 - In Matteo Colombo, Elizabeth Irvine & Mog Stapleton (eds.), Andy Clark and his Critics. Wiley-Blackwell.

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