Out of Our Brains
The main goal of Andy Clark’s article is to rethink the traditional answer to the question that he poses (via the iconic Pixies song) at the very beginning: “Where is my mind?” Clark highlights the general human tendency to view all cognition as occurring within the confines of the brain, even (and perhaps especially) in the context of today’s advanced imaging techniques that reduce brain activity to “colorful ‘brain blobs.’” While Clark maintains that the brain “plays a major role” in thinking, he sets out to challenge the narrowness of the brain blob paradigm by looking outside of it for additional, often overlooked loci of cognition. Clark works carefully and deliberately towards a controversial and groundbreaking thunderhead of theory, starting first with what strikes me in hindsight as a more conservative, plausible example of recent research regarding the link between hand gestures and the human thought process. Using this discussion as a springboard, Clark moves on to challenge what he perceives as the “bio-envelope prejudice” of our society by considering what becomes the cornerstone concept of the article: that of nonbiological technology as possible extensions of our thoughts. The essential argument that he makes is that cell phones, PDAs, and laptops can become naturalized and incorporated into our cognitive bodies over time just as physical prosthetics like a bionic knee or a false foot eventually establish themselves as extensions of our physical bodies.
I think Clark is making a groundbreaking argument by challenging the human tendency to view cognition as rooted solely in our own biology. However, we are social beings every bit as much as we are cognitive or physical. Unfortunately, this concept of the nonphysical prosthetic in general is not something that I got to explore much through the course of this assignment, but you can check out more here.
Clark, Andy. “Out of Our Brains.” NewYorkTimes.com. The New York Times, 12 Jan. 2010. Web. 12 Dec. 2012.