Extended Mind and After: Socially Extended Mind and Actor-Network
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- Kono, T. Integr. psych. behav. (2014) 48: 48. doi:10.1007/s12124-013-9242-2
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The concept of extended mind has been impressively developed over the last 10 years by many philosophers and cognitive scientists. The extended mind thesis (EM) affirms that the mind is not simply ensconced inside the head, but extends to the whole system of brain-body-environment. Recently, some philosophers and psychologists try to adapt the idea of EM to the domain of social cognition research. Mind is socially extended (SEM). However, EM/SEM theory has problems to analyze the interactions among a subject and its surroundings with opposition, antagonism, or conflict; it also tends to think that the environment surrounding the subject is passive or static, and to neglect the power of non-human actants to direct and regulate the human subject. In these points, actor-network theory (ANT) proposed by Latour and Callon is more persuasive, while sharing some important ideas with EM/SEM theory. Actor-network is a hybrid community which is composed of a series of heterogeneous elements, animate and inanimate for a certain period of time. I shall conclude that EM/SEM could be best analyzed as a special case of actor-network. EM/SEM is a system which can be controlled by a human agent alone. In order to understand collective behavior, philosophy and psychology have to study the actor-network in which human individuals are situated.