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Supersizing the MindEmbodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension$
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Andy Clark

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195333213

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195333213.001.0001

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Material Symbols

Material Symbols

Chapter:
(p.44) 3 Material Symbols
Source:
Supersizing the Mind
Author(s):

Andy Clark (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195333213.003.0003

Language can be viewed as a form of mind-transforming cognitive scaffolding: a persisting, though never stationary, symbolic edifice whose critical role in promoting thought and reason remains surprisingly ill-understood. This chapter examines three distinct but interlocking benefits of the linguistic scaffold. First, the simple act of labeling the world opens up a variety of new computational opportunities and supports the discovery of increasingly abstract patterns in nature. Second, encountering or recalling structured sentences supports the development of otherwise unattainable kinds of expertise. Third, linguistic structures contribute to some of the most important yet conceptually complex of all human capacities: our ability to reflect on our own thoughts and characters and our limited but genuine capacity to control and guide the shape and contents of our own thinking.

Keywords:   mind, language, reality, attention, thoughts, cognition

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