Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Extended Mind

David Chalmers gave a TED talk in May of last year. It's on a really fascinating topic: the extended mind thesis. (Chalmers co-authored an article on the topic that you might also find interesting.)

His example of a smart-phone is an interesting one. He notes that my phone stores memories (e.g., phone numbers) and serves as an "executive decision-maker" (e.g., helping me find a good restaurant). Chalmers thinks that my phone is actually part of my mind and not merely a tool that I use to form my beliefs, desires, etc. Indeed, his view is that a great many objects in one's environment are part of one's mind. Consider things like address books, Google, Facebook, GPS devices, and the various lists we make like "to do" lists and grocery lists. The upshot of Chalmers' view is that the mind "ain't all in the head."

I wonder what you think about his talk, his arguments for the extended mind thesis, etc.


Jacob Shepherd said...

Call me ignorant, but I'm not quite sure what Mr. Chalmers means by objects like our phones being "extensions" of our minds. We record our thoughts down on devices and objects that record them. They are imprints that represent what are in our heads. They're not actually part of our heads, though. The scribbles and lines and symbols that we use for language and figures don't intrinsically mean anything. They're just meaningless symbols like the peace sign (joke).

I disagree with Chalmers. I would argue that everything is in our head -- absolutely everything. Outside objects are just manifestations of what is going on inside our brains.

Hopefully my counter-argument is valid.

Michael Spong said...

How could a smart phone or any other man made object be considered to be a part of your mind? Anything and everything on these objects has been put there through technology. They are simply used as tools to express our thoughts, just as if we were writing them down on a piece of paper.