By Andy Clark

First released in 1998. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa corporation.

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Additional resources for Language and Meaning in Cognitive Science: Cognitive Issues and Semantic theory

Sample text

The Rumelhart et a l. vision thus depicts language as a key element in a variety of environmentally extended computational processes. This notion of computational processes inhering in larger systems (ones that may incorporate the activities of many individual biological brains) is further developed and defended in Hutchins (1995). Hutchins offers a beautiful and detailed treatm ent that highlights the ways representation may flow and be transformed within larger, socially and technologically extended systems.

To ta k e off, th e fly s im p ly ju m p s a n d t h e n lets th e signal fro m th e fe e t trig g e r th e w in g s. (M c C la m ro ck , 1995, p. 85; e m p h a s is in origin al) Notice, then, how written and spoken language at times serves a similar goal. We write down a note to do such and such, thus creating an externalized control loop for our own future behavior. We follow someone's vocal instructions as we learn to windsurf. Or we mentally rehearse such instruction as we practise on our own.

Here, the use of linguistic artefacts is perfectly continuous with a variety of other, simpler, environmental manipulations, such as leaving the empty olive oil bottle by the door so that you cannot help but run across it (and hence recall the need for olive oil) as you set out for the shops. 2 Environmental Simplification This has both an obvious and a not-so-obvious aspect. The obvious (but still important) aspect concerns the use of labels to provide perceptually simple clues to help us negotiate complex environments.

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