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The Unbounded and Social Mind: Dewey on the Locus of Mind

8 July 2016


In the recent debate concerning the boundary of mind, the extended mind thesis (EMT), which states that our mind and cognition are extended into the environment, is influential as an antithesis to the internalist (or Cartesian) view, according to which mind and cognition are in the head. However, EMT has some serious difficulties. On the contrary to its proponents’ claim, EMT contributes neither to demystifying the mind, nor to promoting our understanding of cognition. Moreover, it leads to an extreme kind of individualism by regarding environmental resources as constituents of individual human minds. After showing this, I explore an alternative anti-Cartesian picture of mind through citing Dewey’s view of the locus of mind. Although the proponents of EMT often invoke Dewey as a pioneer of their view, his view is in fact the one that should be called the ‘unbounded mind’ rather than the ‘extended mind’. Furthermore, I show that Dewey’s view indicates a root to overcome the individualistic dogma that is shared by internalists and the EMT theorists.


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