Scaffolded Minds

From Philosophical Psychopathology

Scaffolded Minds

Integration and Disintegration

By Somogy Varga

A comprehensive account of cognitive scaffolding and its significance for understanding mental disorders.





A comprehensive account of cognitive scaffolding and its significance for understanding mental disorders.

In Scaffolded Minds, Somogy Varga offers a novel account of cognitive scaffolding and its significance for understanding mental disorders. The book is part of the growing philosophical engagement with empirically informed philosophy of mind, which studies the interfaces between philosophy and cognitive science. Varga draws on two recent shifts within empirically informed philosophy of mind: the first, toward an intensified study of the embodied mind; and the second, toward a study of the disordered mind that acknowledges the convergence of the explanatory concerns of psychiatry and interdisciplinary inquiries into the mind.

Varga sets out to accomplish a dual task: theoretical mapping of cognitive scaffolding; and the application/calibration of fine-grained philosophical distinctions to empirical research. He introduces the notion of actively scaffolded cognition (ASC) and offers a taxonomy that distinguishes between intrasomatic and extrasomatic scaffolding. He then shows that ASC offers a productive framework for considering certain characteristic features of mental disorders, focusing on altered bodily experience and social cognition deficits. With Cognitive Scaffolding, Varga aims to establish that shifting attention from mental symptoms to fine-grained sensorimotor aspects can lead to identifying diagnostic subtypes or even specific sensorimotor markers for early diagnosis.


$40.00 X ISBN: 9780262042628 284 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 3 b&w illus.


  • “Somogy Varga offers a clear and practical account of the complex ways our bodies can shape and scaffold thought and feeling. Detailed treatments of emotion regulation and of altered bodily experience anchor his rich and empirically grounded pluralist approach. It is because our mental life depends so heavily on bodily movement and on interaction with other people, Varga shows, that we are vulnerable to certain kinds of disruption or psychopathology. This book builds from a detailed critical primer on recent theories of the mechanisms and metaphysics of mind to develop suggestive new points of view on depression and autism. It makes important contributions in both philosophy and mental health.”

    John Sutton

    Professor of Philosophy, Macquarie University, Sydney

  • “In this impressively clear and persuasively argued book, Somogy Varga expertly propels the embodied mind into new and fertile territory. His trailblazing analysis of mental disorders as disruptions in embodied interactions with the environment is a rich source of insights that will be highly valued by philosophers of mind, cognitive scientists, and theoretically minded mental health professionals.”

    Michael Wheeler

    Professor of Philosophy, University of Stirling, UK

  • “In his excellent new book, Somogy Varga develops and explores the active scaffolding framework for reconsidering how embodiment can help us to understand mental disorders. He applies the framework to a range of empirical cases and shows how an embodied and extended framework can be applied fruitfully to them. The book is sure to generate debate and interest.”

    Richard Menary

    Professor of Philosophy, Macquarie University, Sydney

  • “Somogy Varga has written an agenda-setting work that, ingeniously and effectively, unites the study of the embodied mind with the study of the disordered mind. This is essential reading for anyone interested in the mind and its pathologies, and will closely shape future discussion.”

    Mark Rowlands

    Professor of Philosophy, University of Miami