Current debates on Philosophy of Mind or so called Philosophical Psychology (Carruthers, 1996), are based on a relatively new hypothesis that came strongly to light by 1998 as a result of Andy Clark and David Charlmers` paper “The Extended Mind”. The extended mind or distributed cognition hypothesis claims that while some mental states and some experiences can be defined internally, there are many others in which the meaning attribution processes are highly influenced by external factors (Clark & Chalmers, 1998). That is, some environmental elements can exert a crucial influence in guiding cognitive processes (
Christopher Nolan’s film Memento (2000) is the story about Leonard, an insurance investigator who suffers from anterograde amnesia, which means he cannot create new memories following a head injury he sustained after intervening on his wife’s murder. Leonard is desperately seeking revenge for this wife’s murder, but due to his memory impairment, this task becomes quite complicated. However, Leonard designs a cognitive system based on tattooing notes on himself and taking pictures of things with a Polaroid camera. This system plays a central role in the story. It works as an embodied GPS driving Leonard’s behavior towards the achievement of his ultimate goal: revenge for his wife’s murder. Leonard’s attempts to create an extended cognitive system based on tattoos and photos, to counterweight his episodic memory impairment, is a striking example illustrating the complexity of memory (Sutton, 2009b). Leonard’s external memory system shows us why memory is much more of and integrative ability, but one that is also entangled and twisted, than the picture given by the architectural approach. Leonard’s case undermines the rationalist distinction between the mind and the body because the mind or the brain is in the body, but the body also inhabits the mind.
To conclude, it is important to point out that my autobiographical memories of having watched Memento (2000) would have probably been left in the darkness of the forgetful brain, if I had not had the opportunity to undertake this writing project. In other words, remembering is situated, goal-oriented and, as expected, due to the influence exerted by the previous two features, usually a cognitive process caused by the interplay of our brains, bodies, and the immediate environment. That is why memory and remembering needs to be thought as a cognitive activity distributed not only between individuals and cultural tools (me and my laptop), but also across individuals and a multiplicity of artifacts with which we continually interact in our everyday lives.