Extended Cognition News

Last month, at Shaun Gallagher’s Cognition: Embodied, Embedded, Enactive, Extended conference, Fred Adams and I met with some criticism of our views on extended cognition.  Andy Clark, Richard Menary, and Pierre Steiner, among others, were allied against us.

Finally, after six years, however, Fred and I are getting our second publication on extended cognition into print.  The Bounds of Cognition will be available about Dec. 10, misinformation at Amazon notwithstanding.  The red, green, and white cover makes it a perfect Christmas gift for that special philosopher of cognitive science on your list.

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4 Comments

  1. gualtiero

    Congrats on the book. Do you feel like sharing some more information about how the exchange went at the conference? Or even better, in your opinion, what is the current state of the debate over the bounds of cognition?

  2. kenneth aizawa

    Thanks, G.

    I think the interchanges Fred and I had with many of the EC
    supporters were very cordial and, while we did not win anyone over to
    our side, I think that the exchanges were productive and supported
    mutual understanding. That’s about as good as it gets. Can’t expect
    folks to convert at one meeting. I think some folks wanted Fred and
    me to “mix it up” in the Q&A with Andy, but other folks had
    questions and the book is coming out.

    The conference itself re-enforces my sense that the idea(s) of
    extended and embodied and embedded cognition is/are still picking up
    steam. There were about 75 papers presented, with over a hundred
    submissions. This complements the growing stream of books on the
    topic. This contrasts, I think, with what happened with
    connectionism in the 80’s and 90’s. It was pretty “hot” among
    philosophers from about 1986 to 1997, but cooled a lot since then.
    Dynamical systems drew a lot of folks from there and so now has
    extended cognition, I think. Of course, connectionism continues
    apace in cognitive science, only not with the revolutionary fervor it
    seemed to have 15 years ago. (In comparing EC and connectionism, I
    am sort of equating the publication of Clark & Chalmers’s paper
    with the McClelland and Rumelhart books as landmarks. Both made a
    big splash, but among philosophers, the “fervor” in EC has
    apparently lasted longer than the “fervor” in connectionism.)

    A second overarching impression is the broad support for EC. In
    our book, Fred and I focused on most of the familiar philosophical
    players in the “analytic tradition.” But, this conference had a
    notable continental/phenomenological representation. Part of this
    surely stems from Gallagher’s journal, Phenomenology and the
    Cognitive Sciences.
    So, while
    most of the readers here probably have the basic line of the
    Inga-Otto thought experiment, there is a much, much broader movement
    afoot here. There were discussions of primates, Bhuddism,
    Confucianism, dynamical systems theory, mobile robotics, wine
    tasting, ethics, semantics, and Husserl, to name just a few.

    With such far flung subjects, I found it hard to pick up a central
    theme to the conference or to tell what the next “big move” in
    the area will be. I did think Dan Weiskopf gave a nice talk on how
    to interpret Art Glenberg’s work on grounding language in the body
    and the body’s contribution to language.

  3. kenneth aizawa

    Thanks, Carl.  Alas, the paperback is not out at the same time.  I shudder to think about what the delay until paper will be.  I’ve asked the editor about the bad news on that.

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