Connecting Hegel and the Extended Mind Hypothesis
Hegel has been an influential figure in many areas of philosophy since the time of his writing in the 1800s. However, his work has not been a direct influence on much work in modern philosophy of mind. On the other hand, the extended mind hypothesis is a relatively recent area of research in modern philosophy of mind. While a connection between Hegel and the extended mind hypothesis may seem unexpected, there are benefits to such an approach. Throughout this thesis I argue that such a connection will not only revitalise Hegel’s theory of mind for Hegelian scholars, but also offer a unique perspective on current debates within the extended mind literature. These debates revolve around the relationship between the mind and the external world, the role of representations in cognition and the role of institutions for cognition. Regarding these debates, Hegel’s approach aligns relatively well with the cognitive integration approach to the extended mind hypothesis in several ways. I argue that both approaches understand there to be a metaphysical continuity between the mind and the environment, focus on representations as primarily external systems that may be manipulated or internalised, and claim that institutions are a cognitive niche in which individuals are embedded. However, the Hegelian approach to the mind is not identical to the cognitive integration approach. The cognitive integration approach currently lacks an in-depth analysis of the impact of the social and cultural institutions which are contained within the cognitive niche. According to Hegel, institutions at a level as fine grained as the division of labour impact the nature and representations of the mind. To understand how the individual mind is extended we must analyse these institutions.