The situated and embodied mind: Best articles?

I have been recently looking at the literature on the embodied and situated mind (mostly for the graduate seminar I will be teaching in Fall). I have been overwhelmed by the sheer amount of articles and books in this area.

So, if you had to name 4 or 5 articles or book chapters that are essential for understanding this area, what would it be? (No need to mention Clark and Chalmers 1998 nor any other article/book by Clark). Articles should include empirical papers as well as critical papers.

With respect to critical papers, a philosophical paper was published last year which criticizes the extended mind. I can’t remember the author. Any help?



  1. Anonymous

    You may be thinking of Rob Rupert’s piece in JP in 2004. Rupert, R. (2004). Challenges to the hypothesis of extended cognition. The Journal of Philosophy, 101, 389-428.

    I would say that these are in the top 4-5 to read:
    Brooks, R. (1999). Intelligence without Representation. Reprinted in Brooks, R. (Ed.). Cambrian Intelligence: The Early History of the New AI. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. (pp. 79-101).

    Haugeland, J. (1998). Mind embodied and embedded. In Haugeland, J. (Ed.). Having Thought. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Van Gelder, T. (1995). What might cognition be, if not computation? The Journal of Philosophy, XCI, 345-381.

    The reason is that they seem to be core references and they are relatively short.

    I’ll promote myself as well:
    Adams, F., & Aizawa, K. (2001). The bounds of cognition. Philosophical Psychology, 14, 43-64.
    This is a critical philosophical piece.

    Fred Adams and I also have a manuscript on extended cognition heading to Blackwell this month. The book is due out late summer 2007.

  2. Edouard, I originally wasn’t going to answer since everything that came to mind was self-promotional. But since Ken did it, here it goes.

    One of my favorite not-written-by-Andy-Clark pieces in this area is Kathleen Akins’ 1996 J. Phil paper “On Sensory Systems and the Aboutness of Mental States” which takes a very close look at what sensory systems do from a neurophysiological point of view (with special attention to thermoperception) and argues quite persuasively that the stuff they do to control intelligent action precludes them from implementing intentionality. (This is self-promotional because an abridged version is reprinted in Bechtel, Mandik, Mundale and Stufflebeam’s 2001 Philosophy and the Neurosciences: A Reader.

    For pro-reprsentational assesment of the kinds of systems appealed to in many embodied and situated approaches to cognition, see my 2003 Biology and Philosophy article “Varieties of Representation in Evolved and Embodied Neural Networks” in which I examine the results of various artificially evolved neural network controllers of minimally cognitive critters and argue that they are representational on a straightforward analysis of representation.

  3. Rowlands and Wilson don’t get enough attention. Wilson’s conservative extended mind thesis is particularly interesting. Of course, most of this stuff has developed by way of books, not papers. But here are a couple of papers. They’re forthcoming, but I think I found them on Wilson’s website.

    Wilson, R.A. forthcoming. Meaning Making and the Mind of the Externalist. In R. Menary. The Extended Mind, Ashgate.
    Wilson, R.A. and Clark, A. forthcoming. How to Situate Cognition: Letting Nature Takes its Course. In M. Aydede and P. Robbins (eds) The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  4. Benny G

    Have you thought of the Lakoff and Johnson book? I think its called “Philosophy in the Flesh.” It seemed interesting when I read it a couple years ago, but, not being any sort of expert on this stuff, I have no idea about the quality.



  5. Thanks again.

    I know most of the papers you mentioned, but I will check those I did not know– the Haugeland and your paper.

    Do you (or anbody else) know whether there is any good empirical work in psychology or neuropsychology inspired by this approach? I find the papers I know (e.g., Glenberg) very unconvincing.

    Additionally, I think that Brooks’ research program has empirically failed. I spoke recently with a scientist from the NASA who works on intelligent robots (for exploring distant planets or other unfriendly environments). He told me that BDI architectures (for belief, desire, intention) were a very common architecture.

  6. Wilson, M. (2002). Six views of embodied cognition. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 9, 625-636

    Barsalou, L.W. (1999). Perceptual Symbol Systems. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 22, 577-660.

    Glenberg, A.M. (1997). What memory is for. Glenberg, A. M.; Behavioral & Brain Sciences, 20(1), 1-55.

    Thelen, E., Schoner, G., Scheier, C., & Smith, L.B.(2001). The Dynamics of Embodiment: A Field Theory of Infant Perservative Reaching. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 24, 1-86.

    Markman, A.B., & Brendl, C.M. (2005). Constraining theories of embodied cognition. Psychological Science, 16(1), 6-10.

    M.P. Kaschack, & A.M. Glenberg. (2000). The role of affordances and grammatical constructions in sentence
    comprehension, Journal of Memory and Language, 43, 508–529.

    Also, all of Lera Boroditsky’s work on time-space metaphors, and

  7. Ken Aizawa

    If you wanted to have a set of papers that engage in a dialectic, the Wilson & Clark discusses Rupert, (2004), and some stuff by Adams & Aizawa.

  8. kenneth aizawa


    Just to be clear, my list is just a short list of what appear to me to be papers that are frequently discussed in the extended mind literature.  I am, after all, a critic of extended mind.

    Glymour’s paper is a nice mean paper.


  9. That Glymour paper is excellent. I like his comparison toward the end of VanGelder and oppenents of atomism in physics.

    Another terrific paper, and one that develops that kind of comparison in much mor detail is Tony Chemero’s “Anti-representationalism and the Dynamical Stance”, Philosophy of Science, 67, 4, 625-647, 2000.

  10. Perhaps i´m pressing the obvius but:

    Hurley S. (1998), Consciousness in Action. Harvard Press

    Nöe A. (2004),Action in Perception. MIT

    Thompson E. (forthcoming,expected title), Radical Embodiment: The Lived Body in Biology, Human Experience and the Science of the Mind. Harvard press


    Barandiaran X. and Moreno A. (2006), On What makes certain dynamical systems cognitive. Journal of Adaptive Behavior, 14(2)

    Gallagher, S. and Anthony J. Marcel. (1999),The Self in Contextualized Action. Journal of Consciousness Studies 6 (4): 4-30.

    Glenberg, A. M., & Kaschak, M. P. (2003),The body’s contribution to language. In B. Ross (Ed.), The Psychology of Learning and Motivation, V43 (pp. 93-126). New York: Academic Press.

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