, 28:9 | Cite as

Extended Life

  • Ezequiel Di Paolo


This paper reformulates some of the questions raised by extended mind theorists from an enactive, life/mind continuity perspective. Because of its reliance on concepts such as autopoiesis, the enactive approach has been deemed internalist and thus incompatible with the extended mind hypothesis. This paper answers this criticism by showing (1) that the relation between organism and cogniser is not one of co-extension, (2) that cognition is a relational phenomenon and thereby has no location, and (3) that the individuality of a cogniser is inevitably linked with the question of its autonomy, a question ignored by the extended mind hypothesis but for which the enactive approach proposes a precise, operational, albeit non-functionalist answer. The paper raises a pespective of embedded and intersecting forms of autonomous identity generation, some of which correspond to the canonical cases discussed in the extended mind literature, but on the whole of wider generality. In addressing these issues, this paper proposes unbiased, non-species specific definitions of cognition, agency and mediation, thus filling in gaps in the extended mind debates that have led to paradoxical situations and a problematic over-reliance on intutions about what counts as cognitive.


Extended mind Enactive approach Autonomy Precariousness Agency Mediation Individuation 



Thanks to Julian Kiverstein, Michael Wheeler, Hanne De Jaegher, Matthew Egbert, Arantza Etxeberria, Giovanna Colombetti, Tom Froese, and Evan Thompson for their helpful comments on this paper and to participants of the Life and Mind Seminars ( where some of the ideas expressed here have been discussed.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Computational Neuroscience and RoboticsUniversity of SussexBrightonUK
  2. 2.Centre for Research in Cognitive ScienceUniversity of SussexBrightonUK

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