Minds and Machines

, 19:477 | Cite as

Beyond Mind: How Brains Make up Artificial Cognitive Systems

  • Lorenzo Magnani


What I call semiotic brains are brains that make up a series of signs and that are engaged in making or manifesting or reacting to a series of signs: through this semiotic activity they are at the same time engaged in “being minds” and so in thinking intelligently. An important effect of this semiotic activity of brains is a continuous process of disembodiment of mind that exhibits a new cognitive perspective on the mechanisms underling the semiotic emergence of meaning processes. Indeed at the roots of sophisticated thinking abilities there is a process of disembodiment of mind that presents a new cognitive perspective on the role of external models, representations, and various semiotic materials. Taking advantage of Turing’s comparison between “unorganized” brains and “logical” and “practical” machines” this paper illustrates the centrality to cognition of the disembodiment of mind from the point of view of the interplay between internal and external representations, both mimetic and creative. The last part of the paper describes the concept of mimetic mind I have introduced to shed new cognitive and philosophical light on the role of computational modeling and on the decline of the so-called Cartesian computationalism.


Extended mind Artifactual mediators Abduction Semiotic brains Semiosis  Disembodiment of mind 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and Computational Philosophy LaboratoryUniversity of PaviaPaviaItaly
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophySun Yat-sen UniversityGuangzhou (Canton)People’s Republic of China

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