| Merlin Donald argues that the mind is assumed not only to be empty (tabula rasa) but to be isolated (tabula isola). That is, we tend to think of thinking as the function of a single mind [Donald]. However, whether language and thought evolved because we were hunters or because we were hunted, it evolved in a social context. Language and thought evolved to serve the group. It evolved for cooperation not conflict. Our cognition subsequently was adapted to serve the individual, and to fuel conflict between individuals. However, we must recognise its positive social origins. Our history is best viewed as the story of communication, with traditional history - the story of conflict as told by the winners - as a footnote about failures of communication.|
Andy Clark challenges the tabula isola assumption in another sense [Clark]. As argued above, over historical time, we have invented extrasomatic tools to extend the nervous system by storing and transmitting information outside our bodies. Thus, the cultural evolution which has recently supplemented the biological evolution involves the mind "thinking" with its extensions. The brain is relatively inept on its own. We can multiply two one-digit numbers "in our heads" only because we have memorised the multiplication tables. However, when confronted with a problem as simple as multiplying two two-digit numbers, we find ourselves reaching for pen and paper. 3
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3 Albert Einstein once stated that his pencil was smarter than he was. Andy Clark once lost his laptop and experienced his loss as an amputation. Our favourite example of trapped intelligence is Steven Hawking. Without his extrasomatic devices, he would be in a nursing home cared for like a baby rather than an author of influential books and theories. ALL our intelligences would be trapped, according to Clark, without our various extrasomatic extensions.