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Dynamic Interactions With the Environment Make Up Our Psychological Phenomena: A Review of Noë’s Out of Our Heads

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  1. All page citations are to Noë (2009), unless noted otherwise.

  2. Other authors who (though in different ways) favor this sort of externalism (taken at a general level) include, for example, Charles et al. (2011), Clark and Chalmers (1998), Kantor (1947), Rachlin (1994), Rockwell (2005), Rowlands (2010), Ryle (1949), Skinner (1976/1974), Smith (1984), and Stephenson (1968), among others.

  3. I shall say more about how I understand these interactions and their place in the modeling of psychological phenomena later on.

  4. To speak of psychological phenomena as being constituted by interactions of the organism with its environment may seem to imply a commitment to the idea that objects of the environment make them up. Still, I do not see this implication. In any case, I dispute the claim that objects of the environment (other than behaviors and the relations they bear to these objects) make up psychological phenomena.

  5. However, I take it that this remark is at least partially compatible with the (quite different) claim that the skillful use of canes, sticks, and the like amounts to literally extending our bodies.

  6. I do not suggest, however, that (a) and (b) are sufficient components of all psychological phenomena. Nonetheless, I submit they are necessary components of them, with one or another possible exception.

  7. Notice that relations are not made up by the things related. I am taller than some people. The relation being taller than, which I bear to these people, is not made up by them.

  8. I advance this perspective at greater length in Lazzeri (2014a).

  9. I take it that there is no contradiction in the view that behaviors involve relations to objects of the environment but are not constituted by these objects. My analysis of the concept of behavior is developed in other works (e.g., Lazzeri 2014b).

  10. There is no principled reason why the relative inner character of these processes should be a sufficient condition for them not to count as behaviors. That is, there is no reason to say that movements of the outside body should be a necessary condition for something to count as a behavior of the organism. As long as a process exemplifies the same parameters that the typical overt behavior exemplifies, it counts as behavior likewise.

  11. Of course, I do not mean to say, however, that every instance of remembering should be analyzed exactly in the same manner of this case.

  12. I would like to reiterate that some instances of thinking, remembering, and similar processes are, of course, composed of overt behaviors (or of both covert and overt behaviors; see Lazzeri 2014a). Thus, from my perspective, it is quite mistaken to say that that thinking, remembering, and the like (let alone dispositional psychological phenomena, such as emotions, moods, and propositional attitudes) are covert events.


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The author would especially like to thank Mark Rowlands, Bryan D. Midgley, and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions. Work supported by São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), grant # 12/00059-2. The content, however, is solely the responsibility of the author.

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Correspondence to Filipe Lazzeri.

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Lazzeri, F. Dynamic Interactions With the Environment Make Up Our Psychological Phenomena: A Review of Noë’s Out of Our Heads . Psychol Rec 65, 215–222 (2015).

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