What is Cognition? Extended Cognition and the Criterion of the Cognitive

Mark Rowlands

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


According to the thesis of the extended mind, at least some cognitive processes extend into the cognizing subject's environment in the sense that they are composed of processes of manipulation, exploitation, and transformation performed by that subject on suitable environmental structures. In contrast, according to the thesis of the embedded mind, the manipulation, exploitation, and transformation of information-bearing structures provides a useful scaffolding which facilitates cognitive processes but does not, even in part, constitute them. The two theses are distinct but often confused. The extended mind has attracted three ostensibly distinct kinds of objection, all of which on further analysis reduce to the idea that the arguments for the extended mind in fact only establish the thesis of the embedded mind. This chapter argues that these three objections can all be resolved by the provision of an adequate and properly motivated criterion of the cognitive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSocial Brain, Distributed Mind
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780191734724, 9780197264522
StatePublished - Jan 31 2012


  • Cognitive processes
  • Embedded mind
  • Exploitation
  • Extended mind
  • Manipulation
  • Transformation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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