Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

The retreat from alienation in cognitive science

By Paul Loader


This thesis examines the relevance of Hegelian-Marxian theory to modern day philosophy of cognitive science. It is suggested that certain key Hegelian-Marxian ideas and themes, such as ‘externalization’, ‘praxis’ and ‘dialectics’, have parallels in modern day cognitive science and that, in some instances a direct connection can be traced from Marxian theory to recent cognitive science, via intermediaries such as Vygotsky, Merleau-Ponty and Levins & Lewontin.\ud \ud It is also suggested that the overarching trajectory of cognitive science is one that can be usefully understood in Marxian terms as a ‘retreat from alienation.’ Taking this as one’s starting point enables one to unify otherwise disparate perspectives under a single banner. In addition it provides one with a means of evaluating individual accounts, such as Varela, Thompson and Rosch’s ‘Embodied Mind’ and Clark and Chalmers’ ‘Extended Mind’. Conversely, some recent cognitive scientific accounts, such as Kirsh & Maglio’s work on ‘epistemic action’, offer further illumination of ideas that are ambiguously expressed in Marxian theory

Topics: BF0309, JA0071
Year: 2013
OAI identifier:

Suggested articles


  1. (2000).The Feeling of What Happens. doi
  2. (2012). [online] Available at:
  3. (1991). A Dictionary of Marxist Thought. doi
  4. (1994). A Dynamic Systems Approach to the Development of Cognition and Action. doi
  5. (1970). A Theory of Human Action. Eglewood Cliffs:
  6. (2004). Action in Perception. The Enactive Approach to Perception. doi
  7. (1955). Adventures of the Dialectic. Paris: Gallimard. Reprinted by
  8. (1873). Afterword to the Second German Edition of Capital’,
  9. (1965). Alchemy and Artificial Intelligence,
  10. (1971). Alienation – Marx’s Conception of Man in Capitalist Society. Cambridge: doi
  11. An Examination of Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy. London and doi
  12. (2011). An Inter-Enactive Approach to Agency: Participatory Sense-Making,
  13. (1998). An Introduction to Hegel’s Logic,
  14. (1977). Analysis of the Text’ in Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. by A.V. doi
  15. (1973). Analytical Philosophy of Action. Cambridge: doi
  16. (1974). and F. Engels (1970b). The German Ideology
  17. (1995). Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach. doi
  18. (1985). Artificial Intelligence: The Very Idea, doi
  19. (2001). Attractive and In-Discrete: A Critique of Two Putative Virtues of the Dynamicist Theory of Mind’.
  20. (1980). Autopoiesis and Cognition- The Realization of the Living. (Boston studies in the philosophy of science; v.42) doi
  21. (1927). Being and Time. Oxford: Blackwell edition (trans.
  22. (1997). Being There: Putting Brain, Body, and World Together Again, doi
  23. (2001). Between Ourselves: Second-person Issues in the Study of Consciousness.
  24. (2002). Beyond Marx and Wittgenstein (a Confession of a Wittgensteinian Marxist Turned Taoist)’,
  25. (2003). Can a Machine Be Conscious? How?
  26. (1954). Can There Be a Private Language?’,
  27. (2010). Capital and Technology: Marx and Heidegger’.
  28. (2002). Change the World Without Taking Power. doi
  29. (1988). Cognitive Semantics’, doi
  30. (1984). Cognitive Wheels: The Frame Problem of AI’
  31. (1995). Computer Power and Human Reason. doi
  32. (1990). Connectionism, Eliminativism, and the Future of Folk Psychology’, doi
  33. (1987). Consciousness and the Computational Mind.
  34. (1991). Consciousness Explained. doi
  35. (2010). Consciousness, Broadly Construed’ doi
  36. (2003). Creative Activity and Alienation in doi
  37. (1994). Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain, doi
  38. (1952). Dialectical Materialism. doi
  39. (1986). Dialectics of Labour: Marx and his Relation to Hegel, doi
  40. (1974). Downward causation' in Hierarchically Organized Biological Systems’, in: Studies in the Philosophy of Biology,
  41. (1995). Dynamic Patterns: The Self Organization of Brain and Behavior. doi
  42. (2003). Dynamical Systems, Emergence and Explanation.
  43. (1996). Dynamics and cognition’, doi
  44. (1987). Early Greek Philosophy. doi
  45. (1844). Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts’, reprinted doi
  46. (2003). Embodied Cognition: A Field Guide’, doi
  47. (2000). Emergent Representations: Dialectical Materialism and the Philosophy of Mind’, PhD Thesis,
  48. (2001). Empathy and Consciousness’ in Between Ourselves: Second-person Issues in the Study of Consciousness.
  49. (1996). Epistemic Action Increases with Skill’. doi
  50. (1990). Essays On Hegel’s Logic,
  51. (2008). Evidence for the Role of SelfPriming in Epistemic Action: Expertise and the Effective use of Memory’. doi
  52. (2010). Exploring the Horizon: Constructing Marx’s Contribution on Praxis as doi
  53. (2003). Freedom Evolves.
  54. (1948). Friedrich Engels and Mathematics’,
  55. (1996). From an Ontological Point of View: Hegel’s Critique of the Common Logic’,
  56. (2002). From Socrates to Expert Systems’, doi
  57. (1882). God and the State. doi
  58. (1999). Hand, Mouth and Brain, The Dynamic Emergence of Speech and Gesture’, in Reclaiming Cognition,
  59. (1989). Hegel – Selections. doi
  60. (1983). Hegel and the Human Spirit. A Translation of the Jena Lectures on the Philosophy of Spirit (with commentary). doi
  61. (2002). Hegel and the Phenomenology of Spirit, doi
  62. (1975). Hegel. Cambridge: doi
  63. (1998). Hegel’s Aesthetics Vol.1, trans. by T.M. doi
  64. (1987). Hegel’s Concept of Geist’,
  65. (2003). Hegel’s Epistemology. doi
  66. (1999). Hegel’s Idea of Freedom, doi
  67. (1817). Hegel’s Logic (Part One of the Encyclopaedia of Philosophical Sciences) trans. by W. Wallace, doi
  68. (1983). Hegel’s Master-Slave Dialectic and a doi
  69. (1996). Hegel’s Metaphysics and the Problem of Contradiction’, doi
  70. (1976). Hegel’s Phenomenology – A Philosophical Introduction, Sussex: doi
  71. (1972). Hegel’s Theory of the Modern State, Cambridge: doi
  72. (2005). Heideggerian Marxism. doi
  73. (2005). Heideggerian Marxism. Herbert Marcuse. Lincoln:
  74. (2010). Horizons for the Enactive Mind: Values, Social Interaction, and Play.’ doi
  75. (2005). How the Body Shapes the Mind. doi
  76. (2008). Humanism and Terror: Merleau-Ponty’s Marxism’, in Cultural Logic,
  77. (2004). I See What You are Saying: Action as Cognition in fMRI Brain Mapping Practice.’ doi
  78. (2007). Imaginary Futures. doi
  79. (2005). In Search of the Enactive: Introduction to Special Issue on Enactive Experience’, doi
  80. (1991). Intelligence Without Representation’, doi
  81. (1999). Interactive skill in Scrabble’.
  82. (1995). Is the richness of our visual world an illusion? Transsaccadic memory for complex scenes’. doi
  83. (2002). Is the Visual World a Grand Illusion’,
  84. (1999). It's O.K. to Be Complicated: The Case of Emotion’.
  85. (1995). It’s About Time: An Overview of the Dynamical Approach to Cognition’,
  86. (1988). Karl Marx and the Philosophy of Praxis. doi
  87. (2009). Karl Marx on Technology and Alienation. London: Palgrave Macmillan. First paperback edition: doi
  88. (1974). Labour and Monopoly Capital, Monthly Review Press, doi
  89. (2004). Life and Mind: From Autopoiesis to Neurophenomenology. A Tribute to Francisco Varela’, doi
  90. (2003). Looking for Spinoza. doi
  91. (1980). Machine as Mind’,
  92. (2012). Marx and Alienation. doi
  93. (1981). Marx and Wittgenstein – Social Praxis and Social Explanation, doi
  94. (1968). Marx in His Own Words. Pelican edition,
  95. (1979). Marx’s Grundrisse, doi
  96. (1970). Marx’s Theory of Alienation. doi
  97. (2003). Memento’s Revenge: The Extended Mind, doi
  98. (1976). Merleau-Ponty’s Marxism: Between Phenomenology and the Hegelian Absolute’, History and Theory, doi
  99. (2006). Mind as Machine,
  100. (2007). Mind in Life. doi
  101. (1993). Mind is Artificial’.
  102. (2003). Natural-Born Cyborgs: Minds, Technologies and the Future of Human Intelligence. doi
  103. (1999). Not One Versus Many, but Zero Versus Any: Structure and Function in the Context of the Multiple Memory-systems Debate.’ doi
  104. (1994). On Distinguishing Epistemic from Pragmatic Action’, doi
  105. (2007). On the role of AI in the Ongoing Paradigm Shift within the Cognitive Sciences’, doi
  106. (1914). Our Knowledge of the External World. doi
  107. (1999). Pain-related Neurons in the Human Cingulated Cortex’.
  108. (2007). Participatory Sense-Making: An enactive approach to social cognition’. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, doi
  109. (1983). Paths to Paradise: On the Liberation From Work. doi
  110. (2001). Perception and Action: Alternative Views’, Synthese 129:
  111. (1977). Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. by A.V. doi
  112. (1953). Philosophical Investigations, doi
  113. (1973). Philosophy and Revolution. doi
  114. (1999). Philosophy In The Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought. doi
  115. (1956). Philosophy of History, trans. by J.Sibree,
  116. (1996). Philosophy of Right, (1821), trans. by S.W.
  117. (1987). Plans and Situated Actions: The Problem of Human Machine Communication. Cambridge: doi
  118. (1969). Psychological Predicates’,
  119. (1999). Real-world Embedding and Traditional Artificial Intelligence’,
  120. (1968). Reason and Revolution, doi
  121. (1999). Reclaiming Cognition,
  122. (2005). Reconstructing the Cognitive World: The Next Step, doi
  123. (1991). Reification’,
  124. (1832). Religion and Philosophy in Germany. Albany:
  125. (1969). Reprinted by Beacon Press:
  126. (1993). Review of doi
  127. (2004). Review of Clark, A. (2003a) in ‘We Have Always Been .
  128. (1979). Selected Writings of August Cieszkowski. Cambridge: doi
  129. (1897). Socialism and Philosophy IV-VI. Online at: archive/labriola/works/al04.htm
  130. (1937). Society and Mind in Marxian Philosophy’,
  131. (1967). Society of the Spectacle. Reprinted
  132. (1969). Some Philosophical Problems from the Standpoint of Artificial Intelligence’, doi
  133. (1998). The Algebra of Revolution: The Dialectic and the Classical Marxist Tradition. doi
  134. (1987). The Appropriation of Nature: Essays on Human Ecology and Social Relations. Iowa: doi
  135. (2010). The Bounds of Cognition. doi
  136. (2009). The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition, Cambridge: doi
  137. (1949). The Concept of Mind. doi
  138. (1986). The Cult of Information, doi
  139. (1985). The Dialectical Biologist. doi
  140. (1979). The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception, doi
  141. (1991). The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience. doi
  142. (1972). The Essence of Christianity’, reprinted doi
  143. (2010). The Extended Mind. doi
  144. (1998). The Extended Mind', doi
  145. (1998). The Extended Mind', slightly different version, accessed online at,
  146. (1972). The Fiery Brook: Selected Writings of Ludwig Feuerbach.
  147. (1999). The Hand : How its use Shapes the Brain, Language and Human Culture. doi
  148. (1996). The Hegel Legend of ‘Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis’ doi
  149. (1996). The Hegel Myths and Legends, doi
  150. (1993). The Heidegger Controversy. doi
  151. (1930). The Instrumental Method in Psychology’, doi
  152. (1995). The Intelligent Use of Space’. doi
  153. (2006). The Logic of Hegel’s Logic, doi
  154. (1969). The Making of a Counter Culture, doi
  155. (2003). The Manifold Nature of Interpersonal Relations: the Quest for a Common Mechanism.’ Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. doi
  156. (1985). The Mind's New Science: A History of the Cognitive Revolution. doi
  157. (1983). The Modularity of Mind, doi
  158. (2004). The New Dialectic and Marx's Capital. doi
  159. (1945). The Open Society and its Enemies, doi
  160. (1983). The Organism as the Subject and Object of Evolution’.
  161. (1945). The Phenomenology of Perception. Paris: Gallimard. Reprinted by Routledge & Kegan Paul,
  162. (1846). The Poverty of Philosophy. Foreign Languages Press edition:
  163. (1956). The Problem of Knowledge. doi
  164. (1912). The Problems of Philosophy.
  165. (1977). The Question Concerning Technology, and Other Essays. doi
  166. (2002). The Re-Emergence of "Emergence": A Venerable Concept in Search of a Theory’, doi
  167. (1967). The Revolution of Everyday Life.
  168. (1976). The Role of Tutoring in Problem Solving’, doi
  169. (1995). The Serial Imperative’
  170. (2001). The Shared Manifold Hypothesis: From Mirror Neurons to Empathy’ doi
  171. (1970). The Social and Political Thought of Karl Marx, Cambridge: doi
  172. (1986). The Society of Mind. New York: Simon and Schuster doi
  173. (1942). The Structure of Behaviour. France: Presses Universitaires de France. Reprinted by doi
  174. (1962). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. doi
  175. (1990). The Symbol Grounding Problem’. doi
  176. (1996). The Third Contender: a Critical Examination of the Dynamicist Theory of Cognition’. doi
  177. (1975). The Tragic Deception: Marx Contra Engels. doi
  178. (1987). The Tree of knowledge: The Biological Roots of Human Understanding. Boston: Shambhala Publications. Revised edition,
  179. (1999). The View from Within: First-Person Methodologies in the Study of Consciousness.
  180. (1776). The Wealth of Nations, Books 1-3, Penguin edition,
  181. (2005). The World in My Mind, My Mind in the World. Exeter: Imprint Academic. doi
  182. (1975). The Young Hegel (orig. pub
  183. (1969). The Young Hegelians and Karl Marx, doi
  184. (1983). The Young Hegelians, Cambridge: doi
  185. (1970). Thesis on Feuerbach. Reprinted in The German Ideology
  186. (2010). Thinking with External Representations’, doi
  187. (1934). Thought and Language. Revised
  188. (1998). Time and Mind’, doi
  189. (1999). Towards a Cognitive Robotics’. doi
  190. (1981). True Believers: The Intentional Strategy and Why it Works’. Reprinted
  191. (1971). Two Marx’s or One?’,
  192. (2000). Understanding Other Minds: Perspectives from Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. doi
  193. (1950). Unpopular Essays, doi
  194. (2011). Use of Complementary Actions Decreases with Expertise’
  195. (2004). We Have Always Been . doi
  196. (1972). What Computers Can’t Do – A Critique of Artificial Reason, doi
  197. (1996). What is Mind Design?’
  198. (1995). What might cognition be if not computation?' doi
  199. (2003). What's That Thing Called Embodiment?’
  200. (2009). Where is my Mind?’ London Review of
  201. (2009). Wittgenstein and the Memory Debate.’ New Ideas in Psychology Special Issue: ‘Mind, Meaning and Language: Wittgenstein’s Relevance for doi
  202. (1987). Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal about the Mind. Chicago: doi

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.