Learning Science

The Extended Mind – Thinking Outside the Brain

Mike Palmer is joined once again by Nancy in a discussion about the book The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain by Annie Murphy Paul. We begin with an excerpt from a recent conversation with Elliot Felix who introduced us to the idea of the extended mind based on the work of cognitive philosopher Andy Clark. From there, we dig into what’s covered in Annie’s book using examples like Nancy, Walkabout Mini Golf, and the method of loci and memory palaces along the way.

Mike brings in sound from a stroll through Prospect Park and a round of virtual mini golf in a rain forest as examples of the critical role of context and how new technologies are expanding how we think about the mind. Mike references Above the Fog and Moonwalking with Einstein, among other things, along the way. We also touch on concepts like collective intelligence and transactive memory as we push to extend beyond the traditional understanding of individuals as brains in an abstracted, disembodied context. We also explore how gestures and other embodied aspects of cognition factor into a broadened understanding of consciousness. We conclude by exploring some of the learning implications of the extended mind and its connection to new and emerging technologies.

It’s an imaginative and wide-ranging exploration about thinking beyond the brain that you won’t want to miss.

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Episode References

Clark, A., & Chalmers, D. J. (1998). The Extended Mind. Analysis, 58(1). http://consc.net/papers/extended.html
Foer, J. (2012). Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything (Reprint edition). Penguin Books.
MacFarquhar, L. (2018, March 26). The Mind-Expanding Ideas of Andy Clark. The New Yorker. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/04/02/the-mind-expanding-ideas-of-andy-clark
Paul, A. M. (2021). The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain. Mariner Books.