One of the tricks in philosophy is to take a vague concept and pump the hell out of it. The mind is one of those dangerously vague folk psychology concepts along with self, consciousness, awareness, and most of the buzz words in Cognitive Science. So what one seeks to do is to whittle down the concept to get the bark off and find the essential core. Then and only then does it seem legitimate for one to work on what it would mean to extend it, whatever "it" is. But how long do we have to wait for the 'reductionist' Churchlands to whittle things down and solve that riddle?
Andy Clark has, by the accident of our history, been handed a hot potato in that mind is one of those "it"s that no one knows really what it is. So it is essential that we move to the biological neurological explanation of what "it" is as best we can. That is not what Andy is doing here, and he knows it. But what's the man to do? The problem is that mind appears to be a supervened phenomena which you are not likely to find in some lobe in the brain. Given that, what Andy has done is to work with what we know about the mind so far and he does tap into a lot of empirican studies that have been completed over several decades.
And he also knows when to stop. For example, he mentions extension of the mind into society, a social sense of the extended mind, but leaves that topic for a later book. Just as well as Alvin Goldman and Frederique de Vignemont are already guarding the gates to that temple with their rejection of the Embodiment of Mind in Society. It will take some interesting new arguments, perhaps from an evolutionary anthropological point of view (Sarah Blaffer Hrdy?) to find a way in.
They are not alone. Adam and Aizawa, Ned Block with his emphasis on qualia, and Robert Rupert are presenting strong objections that have to be addressed. Clark does address Adams and Aizawa in chapter five and in chapter six some of Rupert's arguments are argued against. But Rupert just published a new book (which you can also buy through Amazon) that may have some new arguments or even rebutals to Clark's refutations. (I haven't had a chance to read Rupert's new book so cannot comment on it here.)
I must admit my bias. I love Clark's book. I've read it several times and get new ideas each time I read it. And isn't that what philosophy is all about, building up the framework to get to the next level?
Read this book! Amazon has a great price and you won't regret it. Pay attention to chapter one, it seems to be about robots, but it is just the beginning of an argument for melting our ideas about what has to be embedded in the head. Andy admits to the essential neurological core of what happens in the brain. No brain, no mind. He just wants us to realize that there is more to the mind that what happens in the brain. By the time you get past chapter seven you will realize that is a no brainer. Then, just to settle you down, Andy puts on the brakes in the last three chapters and draws what he feels are the limits to extension.
So why is this all so very important? Because humans are about to launch off into a world that merges the brain with the external world that, coupled with genetic engineering, will forever change what it means to be a human. Just having the Internet has probably raised the average virtual IQ of teens by at least 10 points, if they can get over the game phase. (Clark doesn't consider the Internet a part of the Extended Mind, but I do.) Don't worry, it is not the scary story that Dr. Bill Joy fears. It is humanity that metaphorizes, not unlike a butterfly, or locust, your choice. But you need a manuel. Here is the beginning of that manuel.