Why the extended mind is nothing special but is central

Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-23 (forthcoming)
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The extended mind thesis states that the mind is not brain-bound but extends into the physical world. The philosophical debate around the thesis has mostly focused on extension towards epistemic artefacts, treating the phenomenon as a special capacity of the human organism to recruit external physical resources to solve individual tasks. This paper argues that if the mind extends to artefacts in the pursuit of individual tasks, it extends to other humans in the pursuit of collective tasks. Mind extension to other humans corresponds essentially to the ‘we-mode’ of cognition, the unique power of human minds to be jointly directed at goals, intentions, states of affairs, or values. Because the capacity for collective intentionality holds evolutionary and developmental primacy over human-epistemic artefacts relations, the extended mind should not be seen as a special phenomenon, but as a central aspect of the human condition. The original extended mind thesis carried important implications for how the cognitive sciences should proceed. In a version of the thesis that accommodates collective intentionality, these implications would go far deeper than originally assumed.

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