Building Inner Tools

Goldstone, R. L. (2019).  Building inner tools.  In M. Colombo, E. Irvine, M. Stapleton (Eds.)Andy Clark and his Critics. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press (pp. 113-127).

Humans show a striking penchant for creating tools to benefit our own thought processes. Andy Clark (2003, 2008) has convincingly argued that the tools that we as humans recruit become integrated parts of an extended cognitive system that includes us as just one component. By extending cognition beyond our brains, Clark presents an “embiggened” perspective on what it means to be a cognizer and a person more generally. This perspectival shift runs counter to some recent forms of argumentation that in effect work to minimize personhood. For example, arguments for lack of personal culpability can take the form of “It wasn’t my fault. It was the fault of my ___ ” to be filled in, perhaps, by “upbringing,” “genes,” “neurochemistry,” “diet,” or “improperly functioning amygdala.” Instead, Clark (see also Dennett 1989) offers the opposite line of argumentation, according to which we consist not only of our amygdalae and hippocampi but also potentially our glasses, notebooks, friends, supporting technologies, and culture.

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