Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 33–51 | Cite as

Cognitive extension, enhancement, and the phenomenology of thinking

  • Philip J. Walsh


This paper brings together several strands of thought from both the analytic and phenomenological traditions in order to critically examine accounts of cognitive enhancement that rely on the idea of cognitive extension. First, I explain the idea of cognitive extension, the metaphysics of mind on which it depends, and how it has figured in recent discussions of cognitive enhancement. Then, I develop ideas from Husserl that emphasize the agential character of thought and the distinctive way that conscious thoughts are related to one another. I argue that these considerations are necessary for understanding why forms of cognitive extension may diminish our cognitive lives in different ways. This does not lead to a categorical rejection of cognitive enhancement as unethical or bad for human flourishing, but does warrant a conservative approach to the design and implementation of cognitive artifacts.


Cognitive enhancement Extended cognition Cognitive phenomenology Husserl 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IrvineUSA

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