Sociality as Extended Body-Becoming-Mind
A new view of the extended mind thesis argues that a stark binary opposition between really extending and seeming to extend oversimplifies the issue.
The extended-mind thesis (EMT), usually attributed to Andy Clark and David Chalmers, proposes that in specific kinds of mind-body-world interaction there emerges an extended cognitive system incorporating such extracranial supports as pencils, papers, computers, and other objects and environments in the world. In Feeling Extended, Douglas Robinson accepts the thesis, but argues that the usual debate over EMT—which centers on whether mind really (literally, actually, materially) extends to body and world or only seems to—oversimplifies the issue. When we say that mind feels as if it extends, Robinson argues, what extends is precisely feeling—and mind, insofar as it arises out of feeling.
Robinson explores the world of affect and conation as intermediate realms of being between the physical movements of body and the qualitative movements of mind. He shows that affect is transcranial and tends to become interpersonal conation. Affective-becoming-conative sociality, he argues, is in fact the primary area in which body-becoming-mind extends. To make his case, Robinson draws on a wide spectrum of philosophical thought—from the EMT and qualia debates among cognitivists to the prehistory of such debates in the work of Hegel and Peirce to continental challenges to Hegelianism from Bakhtin and Derrida—as well as on extensive empirical research in social psychology and important sociological theories of face (Goffman), ritual (Connerton), and habitus (Bourdieu).
Hardcover$7.75 S | £6.99 ISBN: 9780262019477 264 pp. | 9 in x 6 in
Robinson's contribution to the EMT literature is well-founded, accessibly broad-minded, and connected to the most important questions left unanswered in contemporary debates concerning the EMT. Anyone interested in the definition of mind or the fate of the EMT will find this book stimulating and contentious, as Robinson remakes Clark's EMT as a more radical and intersubjective theory.
Feeling Extended… is well-researched, well-written, and one of the more enjoyable texts one may come across in its field. It is - on the face of it - an answer to the 'qualia trap' that Clark and Chalmers so eagerly aim to avoid, but much more sophisticated than that. Douglas Robinson opens the way for new work in the field of 4E+A by calling a spade a spade, a feeling a feeling.
Douglas Robinson does a brilliant job in explaining how mind extends from the head into the world. Technology is not just gadgets. It's the extension of mind into skills to use what has been invented, and into societal practices among people. This book itself is an excellent example of how our minds are extended in writing and reading.
University of Toronto