Here’s a quick test for you: When you look at your phone or your screen, do you still feel the magic of that first tug when you got your first smartphone? If that answer is NO well then this one is for you.
So here’s a new train of thought to blow your mind.
Where do you draw the line that says this is where you begin and this where your phone ends – and can your phone or screen be you?
You would say “pffft” this is easy to solve. You would nod your head yes if I said that your phone is not you. You are not a mix of glass and parts made in a land miles and miles away. In fact you might think, “I am me. The phone is not me. The screen is not me.” And you would draw the line. Cool, you’re a normal human.
If you look a bit closer, you might change your mind.
Let’s start with a look at your memory. You use it often and you’re a pro at it.
Let’s say – through no fault of your own – you have a real hard time with your memory, and you could not use your brain to remember your kid’s birthday. You may think you are a bad mom or dad if you could not remember the date. And on the flip side, you might feel pride or joy to know the date. You feel this way because you count on your mind to know this fact. There’s a part of us that thinks that the less time and space there is to call on a fact, the more it is us. We made this thought. It is a memory. It came from us.
But let’s say that you use a pen and paper to help you note this birthday from now on. So you write down this date. And every time for the next twenty years that you will send your kid a birthday card, you will only use this paper to bring the date to mind. Does the fact that you can only use this paper to remember make it less your memory if you had no other way to know this date?
Many will say “this is paper. this is not me or my memory.”
There seems to be a big deal about where you wrote this date (on a paper) and how it is not quite the same as your actual memory.
Maybe it’s not fast enough, or close enough, or reliable enough, or that it’s not skin and bone, to be memory. Maybe because it’s something that’s outside of the mind.
So what if we take a third scene: What if you could use this note so fast and it’s in reach at any time, that you could use this note as soon as you would like – you could 100% trust and count on the note being correct. And to step it up – what if we put a real chip in your brain that could help you see the note right away the moment you thought of it like some type of mind picture?
Will this make the note more a part of you and your memory?
This note is instant, fast, reliable and is a chip in your brain – We say by all counts, based on the way you use it, it is memory.
You might find this one hard, but you could still go as far as to say that it’s only almost the same just because it feels untrue.
If this thought doesn’t sit well with you, it’s because it feels outside of you. Outside of your mind. And in that way, not you.
The big question is: are there things not literally inside the mind that are key to the way we make thoughts? So much so, that they are core to the thought process – and not as an add-on?
And here’s where it gets weird. Think of times when you had to count a number so big that you had to stop and then use your fingers to count.
If you did not have your fingers to count, you would not have a complete thought. Your fingers are core to the thought process of counting – not an add-on. Without your fingers for your thought process there would be no thought process. It is the thought process. Other than it being outside of your mind, the speed, reliability and closeness of your hand suggests it is extending your thinking.
Even when you play Scrabble, the act of spelling with word tiles when you mix and match letters puts the letter pieces right in the midst of your thought process. These word tiles are part of your spelling thought process.
So we wonder how often you find that Googling something is your gut reply to find a fact you don’t know? And, how often you Google something to complete a thought? And do you even think about whether you need to Google, or do you just hit search?
If you use a Google search bar each time you don’t know something, the speed, reliability, trust and constancy put into the search bar is the same as counting your fingers when you add. All you would need for you to feel that the Google search bar is a part of you is if you had constant, speedy, reliable access to it.
Such as, on your phone which is with you all the time. Which you use all the time.
In fact if you think about it, with all the information we store on the internet, it’s a huge memory bank. A search is like digging in your brain to pull up some fact you didn’t need til now. For instance, remember the last meal you ate? Or the last book you read? Those facts are out of mind til you need it. And like your brain when it needs to come up with a fact, hitting the search bar is the same.
So your phone – if you use it often enough – is a thought process that links your mind to a bank of facts, faces, ideas, important dates, and people who matter most. We say that the modern phone is a tried and true part of you. At least, a direct part of your memory. And the things you use your phone for the most, those knee-jerk moments you unlock the screen without a blink, are where your heart and mind has roots.
There’s no magic to this, it’s just your everyday life. So to answer the question of where you begin and where your phone ends, we ask you: how often, and for what end do you use your phone? Because if you look there, you might just find a piece of yourself.
[If you are looking for a thorough discussion of active externalism, please see the paper, “The Extended Mind” by Clark and Chalmers http://consc.net/papers/extended.html]
this has been an original written work by Monocle Booth x Looking Glass Productions, with direct reliance on “The Extended Mind” by Clark and Chalmers – Published in Analysis 58:10-23, 1998. Reprinted in (P. Grim, ed) The Philosopher’s Annual, vol XXI, 1998. http://consc.net/papers/extended.html”