ISSN: 15397785
First published in 2002
4 issues per volume
Volume 17 Issue 2
Cover Date: March 2018
Media ecology and Bios Theoretikos: Philosophy as extended cognition
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Authors:  Adam Robbert 
DOI: 10.1386/eme.17.2.137_1

Keywords
media ecology,Peter Sloterdijk,Pierre Hadot,Michael McGhee,extended cognition,askēsis,affordances,niche construction theory

Abstract
In this article, I take a media ecology perspective on philosophy. This approach supports the German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk’s claim that first philosophy is not metaphysics, aesthetics, ethics or epistemology but rather practice (askēsis). Sloterdijk’s practice-centred view of philosophy is shared by Pierre Hadot and Michael McGhee, both of whom give askēsis a central role in philosophy. I draw on the work of these philosophers to show that philosophy is best conceived as an act of extended cognition performed amidst different media ecologies. To make this point, I start not with humans and our practices, but with spiders and theirs. When philosophy is seen as an instance of extended cognition, I argue, one can draw parallels between our practices and those of non-human species, who like us build artefacts to deepen their perception and understanding of their environments. To this end, I explore the settings that enable philosophical training. Philosophy on this view is facilitated by an ecology of affordance spaces – academies, libraries, monasteries and more – whose design helps the philosopher perform certain manoeuvres in thought, manoeuvres that make apparent the conditions required for the bios theoretikos (the life of contemplation).
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