Extended Minds and Instrumentality

On the Role of the Nonhuman in Human Cognition

  • Julian Asbaeck
Keywords: extended cognition, instrumentality, nonhuman, cognitive development, bodily-sensory perception, signal processing


This contribution offers a literary approach to extended cognition and asks in which capacity interactions with the nonhuman come to shape cognitive development. Specifically, this question is posed in regards to our active use of nonhuman instruments that are recognized as a reflection of social practices that mediate our engagement with the world. In this sense, the fictional journal entries of this _perspective track the development of novel cognitive structures on the basis of a recently introduced communication device. The narration provides a genealogy of a communal shift in thought and in conclusion advances speculations on the mediating role of instruments. In continuation, the narrative segment is followed by a scholarly reflection which decidedly rejects the idea of cognition as limited to the confines of the head. Through elaborating the hybrid alliances between ourselves and the nonhuman, this second segment mobilizes concerns of the extended mind hypothesis in the context of artificial intelligence. This succinct reflection hence applies questions regarding the mediating role of instruments to the domain of artificial intelligence and asks how computational architectures which actively adapt to our behavioral patterns modify the way in which the instrument relation ought to be critically assessed.