Chicago Pragmatism and the Extended Mind Theory

European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy 5 (1) (2013)
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The goal of this paper is twofold. First, it examines the pragmatic ramifications of recent research in certain areas of cognitive science (embodied mind theory, extended mind theory). Second, it shows how the Chicago pragmatists (George H. Mead, John Dewey) not only envisioned these findings but also how, within certain strains of cognitive science, their work is explicitly appreciated for important preliminary insights which help us interpret the outcomes of current research. The argumentative line of the paper revolves around Mead’s and Dewey’s treatment of the relation between perception and action. Cognition, in the view of the Chicago pragmatists, is not divisible into atomistic, ontologically disconnected units but rather should be seen as an organic circuit within which stimuli and responses are mutually interdependent phases of an ongoing goal-directed active involvement of the organism in the environmental structures. According to Mead and Dewey, as well as the presently burgeoning branch of cognitive science called the “extended mind theory,” cognition is not something that takes place exclusively in our heads but should be rather seen as an objective relation between organism and the environment. On the background of Mead’s theory of the act (with its four stages – impulse, perception, manipulation, and consummation) the author points to certain surprising similarities between the pragmatists’ treatment of the notion of cognition and ideas recently suggested by defenders of the extended mind theory.



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Roman Madzia
Masaryk University

References found in this work

The Bounds of Cognition.Frederick Adams & Kenneth Aizawa - 2008 - Malden, MA, USA: Wiley-Blackwell. Edited by Kenneth Aizawa.
Intelligence without representation.Rodney A. Brooks - 1991 - Artificial Intelligence 47 (1--3):139-159.
Varieties of presence.Alva Noë - 2012 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Extended cognition and the space of social interaction.Joel Krueger - 2011 - Consciousness and Cognition 20 (3):643-657.
The reflex arc concept in psychology.John Dewey - 1896 - Psychological Review 3:357-370.

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