Varieties of the extended self

Richard Heersmink

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


This article provides an overview and analysis of recent work on the extended self, demonstrating that the boundaries of selves are fluid, shifting across biological, artifactual, and sociocultural structures. First, it distinguishes the notions of minimal self, person, and narrative self. Second, it surveys how philosophers, psychologists, and cognitive scientists argue that embodiment, cognition, emotion, consciousness, and moral character traits can be extended and what that implies for the boundaries of selves. It also reviews and responds to various criticisms and counterarguments against the extended self. The main focus is on the link between the extended mind and extended self, which has received the most attention in recent literature. But accounts of the extended self developed independently of the extended mind are also briefly discussed. This article ends by drawing out some of the conceptual, methodological, and normative implications of the extended self and suggesting some directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103001
Number of pages12
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Distributed self
  • Embodiment
  • Extended character
  • Extended consciousness
  • Extended emotion
  • Extended mind
  • Extended self
  • Identity
  • Material self
  • Soft self

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