ARTS3091 Blog 3 – Extended Mind

March 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

Extended Percept

This week I am blogging on Alva Noe’s readings & vlog, David Chalmer’s  lecture and the class lecture. I’ve decided to argue against the philosophical concept of the extended mind.  The extended mind argues, in a nutshell, that cognitive processes aren’t (all) in the head. That external processes (media technologies especially) are replacing what is normally done in the head (Chalmers, 2009). That our sense of self is controlled by our interactions with the external world (Murphy, 2012), and ‘that thoughts, feelings, experiences of taste and the like’ do not take place in the head at all(Noe, 2009).

I argue that instead of media technology extending the mind, it extends percepts.

Noe makes an analogy between the car and self, comparing the brain to the engine. He argues that driving takes place in the whole car not just the engine, and that as such ‘being’ or ‘self’ takes place in the whole body, not just the  brain. He is arguing that our senses are part of our extended (exterior) mind. This is partly true, but is by no means definitive. It is a commonly known fact that we can have a perception, without a percept. How would you explain basic illusions, or more complicated perceptions without sense such as dreaming, blind sight or phantom limbs? Perception can be purely internal, without external actors.

Chalmer’s main example that cognitive processes take place outside the head is that he can ‘remember’ numbers in his iphone. He also states that arguing against this fact is self defeating, but I disagree. Memory is a three part process. Encoding, storing and retrieving.  A media may be able to encode and store, but it cannot retrieve. (stay with me here)

I am arguing that media technology extends percepts, rather than our mind, through space and time. Chalmers argues that by writing down things we are extending our memory. I argue that we are extending the percept of the thing we are writing down. If someone tells us an address we are able to access that perception, albeit through a different medium, at any time and place. It does not extend our mind but rather extends the percepts of the world.

In summation; I believe that rather than extending the mind, we are extending percepts available to our mind in both space and time.



Noë, Alva and Solano, Marlon Barrios (2008) ‘dance as a way of knowing: interview with Alva Noë’, <>

Noë, Alva (2010) ‘Does thinking happen in the brain?’, 13:7 Cosmos and Culture <>

Chalmers, David (2009) ‘The Extended Mind Revisited [1/5], at Hong Kong, 2009’, <>

Murphey, A. (2012) Week 4 ARTS3091 Lecture, University of New South Wales


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