The Blurred Line Between Internal and External Minds

Contemplation sometimes can only be done with assistant of paper and pen. When finishing a simple task, such as set up a reminder or checking the weather on our smart phones to the process of completing the same task using only our internal “mind,” you will find it’s really hard to accomplish anything without “external” mind and that “external” assistant could make our “internal” minds more comprehensive. Therefore, considering these processes performed on external devices, as part of cognition, an external cognition, or an external mind is reasonable. (Clark and Chalmers). 

On the other hand, in order to symbolize/understand the our surrounding environment and people, human created coupled system (Clark and Chalmers), which all elements in it can direct impact on human organism and human behavior. Human plug varies symbolic systems/modules into brain to generate schemata. Accumulation of different types of schemata will spontaneously generate a language system, scaffolding. The scaffolding fulfilled the need of symbolization and communication. They coupled system of meaning exchanging with other people is an extension of human body, like any other technologies.

The concept of the “distributed cognition” discussed in this week’s readings seems does not focus on a single location as the center of cognition. Distributed cognition as Hutchins explains, allows for “principles that apply at multiple scales and across vastly different kinds of cognitive systems” (Hutchins 2013, 37).  Hutchins also says that his theory is not an attempt to “make any claim about the nature of the world. Rather, it is to choose a way of looking at the world…” This claim puts the entire field of cognitive science into conceptual, and blurred the fine line between physical external minds such as iPhones and “distributed cognition” in our social life. Since Hutchins’ question is a conceptual and perspective proposal, empirical evidence will likely never be able to be quantifiably proven. The question still caught my attention is that how can we consciously use distributed cognition in real life and how would it benefit our internal world besides the adoption of tools.