The Bounds of cognition • by Frederick Adams and Kenneth Aizawa

Analysis 69 (2):385-386 (2009)
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Abstract

Tools and technologies expand our capacities, including our cognitive capacities. Microscopes extend our perceptual capacities. Notebooks extend the natural limits of memory. These facts are important, for all that they are obvious. The extended cognition hypothesis wants more. Some external devices and processes are literal parts of cognitive processes themselves. When there is fast and reliable access to external data or processes , then the cognitive processes that occur uncontroversially inside the brain literally and controversially extend out into the world to incorporate external structures or processes. Retrieval of an address from memory and retrieval of the same information from a notebook can both be fully cognitive processes involving fully cognitive representations. So say the proponents of extended cognition.It is an attractive metaphor. But is there any good reason to take it as literal truth? Adams and Aizawa argue that the debate on extended cognition implicates an …

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