The extended mind and the boundaries of perception and action

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The extended mind hypothesis (EM) (Clark & Chalmers 1998; Clark 2008) is an influential hypothesis in philosophy of mind and cognitive science. In this paper I discuss the support waiting for EM in social cognition, particularly in some cases of embodied intersubjective interactions or action-understanding. A main claim to be defended by way of defending EM is the elimination of the boundary between perception and action (Chalmers 2008). I explore the possibility that embodied intersubjectivity may supply the much needed interdependence of perception and action required to ground a robust EM. I discuss two theories of action-understanding for exploring the support for EM in embodied intersubjective interactions, namely, simulation theory (ST) and a perceptual account (PT). However, using the support from embodied intersubjectivity requires EM to abandon two cornerstones of Clark’s philosophical framework, namely, representationalism and the basic functional dichotomy between perception and action. I argue that if EM adopts a simulation theory of action-understanding it rejects representationalism. If it adopts a perceptual account of action-understanding it relies on an action-oriented account of perception hitherto criticised by Clark. Keywords: extended mind; perception-action interdependence; simulation theory; perceptual theory; embodied intersubjectivity


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