A222 – week 23 – An extended mind

This week’s study was based around Clark and Chalmer’s extended mind hypothesis where external tools such as notebooks, mobile phones, calculators, the internet, can be considered mental states as they are used the same way as memory is.

Now I’m happy with external tools being used as part of a cognitive process (why I didn’t have a problem with Block’s China thought experiment), but for me it’s a stretch to then consider that tool as a mental state itself. For me these external tools provide content, but only that. They do not extend my mind, but can extend capabilities by (technically) freeing up processing and storage space for other tasks (though really what am I doing with the part of my kind that used to store telephone numbers? I’m pretty sure it’s just storing useless trivia instead). Outsourcing memory to the internet does not mean that the internet is part of my mind, since without the internet I can’t “know” whatever it is I’m accessing the internet for. Oh look, back to what constitutes knowledge again.

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