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Buller’s Topics in Mind and Language course to explore the extended mind

Professor Tom Buller will be teaching PHI 315 (Topics in Mind and Language) in fall 2015.

A commonly held view is that mental processes like beliefs and feelings occur inside the head.

In this course we will consider a radical alternative to this commonly held view—the view that mental processes and even the mind itself can exist outside the brain. This view—the Extended Mind Thesis—was first proposed by Andy Clark and David Chalmers in 1998 and has generated a significant amount of discussion. According to Clark and Chalmers, there are good reasons for holding that certain cognitive processes can be “off-loaded” into the world.

In this way new “mind-world circuits” are formed. Imagine, for example, that you are using paper and pencil to work out your weekly budget. The standard view would say that the paper and pencil are tools to assist with the cognitive process, not part of the cognitive process itself. But is there a clear line between what counts as a “mere” tool and what counts as part of the process itself?

In the first part of the course we will read the original article by Clark and Chalmers, as well as a number of important responses and criticisms to the Extended Mind Thesis. In the second part of the course we will turn to a recent book by Mark Rowlands, who discusses the complex relation between mind and world, and what it means to say that the mind is extended, embodied, and embedded.

Contact Buller for more information at tgbulle@ilstu.edu.

Comments

difficult to understand.