Mental institutions



Publication Details

Gallagher, S. and Crisafi, A. 2009, 'Mental institutions', Topoi: an International Review of Philosophy, vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 45-51.


We propose to extend Clark and Chalmer’s concept of the extended mind to consider the possibility that social institutions (e.g., legal systems, museums) may operate in ways similar to the hand-held conveniences (notebooks, calculators) that are often used as examples of extended mind. The inspiration for this suggestion can be found in the writings of Hegel on “objective spirit” which involves the mind in a constant process of externalizing and internalizing. For Hegel, social institutions are pieces of the mind, externalized in their specific time and place. These institutions are the products of shared mental processes. We then use these institutions instrumentally to do further cognitive work, for example, to solve problems or to control behavior.

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