We are bewildered at the dialectic on which Adams and Aizawa rely. We are entirely happy to treat study of ‘the kinds of processes that take place in the brain’ as scientifically valid, and to accept intracranial cognition: we have never argued otherwise, and nor to our knowledge has Clark (nor Rowlands, nor Wilson). Cognition is not necessarily or always extended (Wilson and Clark 2009, p. 74; Sutton 2010, p. 191; Rowlands 2010). And even when it is extended, the brain remains a unique part of the extended system, performing operations which are distinct from (though complementary to) those of the external resources (Clark 2010a; Sutton 2010). Adams and Aizawa misunderstand the nature of the extended cognition thesis: the revolutionary flag which they belittle is not one we have ever saluted. In defending a complementarity-based case for extended cognition, neither we nor Clark ally ourselves with radical anti-cognitivism, whether of dynamicist, enactivist, phenomenological, or Wittgensteinian stripe. This is why our version of the thesis has real bite. We may adopt some of the constructive (rather than the critical) aspects of these movements, but ultimately we are playing the same game as Adams and Aizawa: we too maintain a version of the representational-computational theory of mind, even if ours is a somewhat revised and amended version (Clark 2001b).This is why complementarity-based theorists of distributed and extended cognition are in turn sometimes criticised by more extreme anti-cognitivists for “not proposing that the very idea of cognition is itself a mistake,” and because we do “not renounce cognitive science” (Button 2008, pp. 88–89; compare Malafouris 2004, Dreyfus 2007). While we respond vigorously to such critiques, and seek more precisely to differentiate our views from these truly radical alternatives, these critics do in these respects characterize our position more accurately than Adams and Aizawa, who wrongly think that the hypothesis of extended cognition requires wholesale rejection of intracranial cognitive processes and their neural and psychological study.
So Adams and Aizawa first treat extended cognition as a “revolutionary” thesis which denies intracranial cognition, and then suggest that complementarity fails to deliver on the revolutionary promise. They are thus seeking to trap the extended cognition theorist in a dilemma: either maintain the extreme “revolutionary” position, or collapse back into individualism. But we reject the alleged dilemma. Along with Clark and the others, we inhabit a rich middle ground, one which this paper continues to develop, which is entirely distinct both from internalist forms of cognitivism and from externalist anti-cognitivism. Yet when Adams and Aizawa do accurately acknowledge that our views are not anti-cognitivist, they try to assimilate us to a more conservative internalism. They lump Sutton’s treatment of memory together with the work of Lakoff and Gallagher on embodied cognition as examples “of a non-revolutionary approach” (2008, p. 179). Their aim is to deny the existence of that middle ground, and to assimilate any view which is not radically anticognitivist to a much more orthodox individualism. Sutton’s project, they say, ‘can be undertaken while leaving much of the cognitive psychology of memory as the study of processes that take place, essentially without exception, within nervous systems’ (2008, p. 179). We disagree: this reversion to internalism is not an implication of Sutton’s view. As the cognitive psychological research on memory which we describe below demonstrates, the scientific study of memory is not and should not be restricted to the examination of processes occurring within the brain.